Food and family go together—except when food insecurity makes it impossible to ensure that your family will be able to eat from day to day. This is where our partnership with the Sharing Place, a ministry of Lutheran Child and Family Services right here in Indianapolis, makes all the difference.
If you don’t know the term food insecurity, you can count your blessings. But for 1 in 5 Hoosiers, having food to eat on any given day is not something they can count on; and many of those without reliable access to food are children.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, with job losses and reduced access to school meal programs, even more families were finding it hard to keep meals on the table. The problem was further complicated by the fact that volunteers who had faithfully served at Sharing Place were among the most vulnerable to the virus, and health requirements meant that despite greater need, there were fewer hands to help.
Lutheran Family didn’t let the challenges of the pandemic stop them from serving the community. “We knew then that if we wanted to make a dent, we’d have to scale up,” said long-time Foundation Secretary Sven Schumacher.
With support from Gleaner’s Food Bank, who placed two paid workers at Sharing Place for six months, supplemented by a steady stream of recently laid-off workers (including teachers who were familiar with the work of Sharing Place) and with the financial support from Christ Church Cathedral and others, Sharing Place moved its operations to a drive-by pick-up service serving 40,000 people twice a month with pre-boxed, family-sized supplies for healthy, balanced meals.
Of course, Sharing Place didn’t start serving the families of Indianapolis when the pandemic hit. They’ve been serving for over 50 years, with Christ Church Cathedral at their side since the 1970s, making up a significant portion of their annual budget. Because this long standing commitment to fighting hunger and serving families, Sharing Place was ready to meet the challenges that came with the coronavirus.
As more people are vaccinated and the number of coronavirus cases continues to go down, Sharing Place will be able to return to the model it has built over the years, which does so much more than hand out food. Pre-pandemic, Sharing Place provided a connection to the community that included a grocery store–style food selection experience with nutrition experts, shopping consultants, and culinary classes (with recipes) available to all clients. Conveniently located within the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence of Township Education and Community Center, Sharing Place makes it easy for families to add a stop for fresh food, including local produce, in their regular comings and goings for school and activities.
Sharing Place also has its finger on the pulse of a changing community. With a growing immigrant population, many of whom are Spanish speakers, and a significant community coming from Haiti, Sharing Place is staying up-to-date on the particular needs of these new additions to the community. Sven Schumacher recalls the welcome he received as a young immigrant and the difference it made in his life. Mr. Schumacher serves as Honorary Consul for the Federal Republic of Germany and in that capacity, he works closely with the Consul General of Mexico and others to be sure that those arriving in Indianapolis will receive the kind of welcoming support that he received.
The history between Christ Church Cathedral and Lutheran Child and Family Services also runs deep; going back to a friendship between Mr. Schumacher and Andrew Clapp, who worked on behalf of abused and neglected children in the 1990s.
The pandemic did not create the need for Sharing Place, but it did shine a light on the enormous issue of food insecurity and the need to address it for the health and well-being of our city. Now that restrictions are easing, Sharing Place is ready to welcome new volunteers and continue to expand its work connecting food and family and all that goes along with that healthy connection. To become a part of this deep and meaningful partnership, visit the Volunteer Portal and find your place in this vital ministry.
Learn more about Lutheran Child and Family Services and Sharing Place at www.lutheranfamily.org.