December 19, 2023

Gleaners reports a significant spike in food assistance

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana reports a spike in the number of meals served. - Jill Sheridan/WFYI

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana reports a spike in the number of meals served.

Jill Sheridan/WFYI

More families in Central Indiana are seeking food assistance. Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana reports a spike in the number of meals served.

In its recent fiscal year, which ended in September 2023, Gleaners provided a record 48 million meals to people in its 21-county service area – an increase of 17 percent more than its previous fiscal year.

Gleaners President and CEO Fred Glass said numerous factors play into the increase, including support, inflation and supply. 

“We sourced food from literally all around the world to provide to neighbors in need,” Glass said, “because government support has gone down. Even though we've gotten better at getting donated food, we have to buy close to half the food that we provide.”

Glass said during the pandemic the organization received around $20 million worth of food from the federal government. This year it only received about four million.

The demand also rose as pandemic related assistance, including expanded SNAP, ended. Rent increases also impact the residents it serves. Glass said more people are experiencing food insecurity for the first time.

“People that you see at your kids softball game, or the PTA, or a basketball game … a lot of them may be facing hunger, because we don't know what's going on in people's lives,” Glass said.

Recent data from the USDA shows a similar spike in food insecurity across the nation. In Marion County, the number of people seeking food assistance from the organization increased 11 percent, year over year, according to Gleaners. This fiscal year brought the 17 percent spike. 

Glass said food inflation has slowed but is still outpacing wage gains for many lower-income workers they serve.

“I challenge anyone to come out and see the folks that we're serving are hard working people who are trying to make it and just can't,” Glass said.

This trend continues even as recent indicators show a strong economy.

Gleaners was founded in 1980. It is part of Feeding America, a national food bank network.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at

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