Second Harvest Food Bank working to create ‘pop-up’ pantries in neighborhoods

We wanted to share this important information with you about an organization in our area working to address food insecurity during this crisis. This article is from the Star Press and we’ll include the details verbatim below. Please share this with anyone you think might have a need.

 For two months, cars have been wrapped around the parking lots where Second Harvest food distributions have taken place. Some Tailgate events have drawn more than 400 attendees.

To help the areas with the most need, Second Harvest has spent time contacting organizations around Muncie to create “pop-up” pantries in addition to the tailgates.

While the food bank already works alongside 96 other local agencies, Robby Tompkins, director of philanthropy, said these are new partners, many of them neighborhood associations and churches.

“We identified areas of Muncie that were food deserts and either didn’t have a local agency already in place that we supply or areas outside of our public tailgate distribution locations,” Tompkins said in an email to The Star Press.

To make the pop-up pantries a reality, Second Harvest secured two large freightliner vans and began coordinating two-hour blocks of time throughout the week for each partner to use one or both of the vans.

Tompkins said some are doing a drive-thru approach with some home deliveries, while others are doing more home deliveries or parking the van for an in-person hand-out approach.

The amount of food Second Harvest provides to the organizations varies, depending on need and how much the group want to distribute.

“The volunteers from the partner organization come to our warehouse and through a no-contact process they get the loaded vans and take it from there,” Tompkins said. “We leave it up to the partners to decide how best to serve their neighborhoods and they bring the vans back empty and we re-fill them for the next group.”

Since Second Harvest is part of the National Diaper Bank Network, diapers also are available for the partner organizations to hand out.

Since March 27, the Muncie Southside Neighborhood Association has been holding its pop-up pantry at Heritage Apostolic Tabernacle.

They serve about 180 families every Friday from 1 to 2:30 p.m., or until the food is gone, said Chandra Parks, president and founder of the association.

Having the pantry in the neighborhood has been crucial, since Southside Neighborhood is the largest in Muncie.

“It’s high in poverty. A lot of families can’t get out.Some are disabled and can’t get on the bus to get to the stores,” Parks said. “Being able to do this is making it easier for them, eliminates some stress and really just is needed in our community.”

The association utilizes the vans from Second Harvest, having cars pull up in a drive-thru format. If someone can’t make it, neighborhood organizers will deliver the food.

With the pandemic, Parks said, many people were afraid to go out to the stores.

“We just drop it into their trunks and they keep going,” Parks said. “I think that really made it a safe place for families.”

According to a press release, if attendance is low, leftovers will go to organizations including the YWCA, A Better Way, Muncie Mission and Motivate our Minds.

Currently, nine groups are participating in the van distributions. Second Harvest is hoping to secure more partnerships, and Tompkins said any group that is interested can contact the organization to set up a day and time.

“We are excited to be working with these new groups to reach neighborhoods of families and isolated older adults that are homebound,” Tompkins said. “Our goal is to get food out to all that need it in any way possible. This new approach has helped reach thousands more in need.”


Charlotte Stefanski is a reporter at the Star Press. Contact her at 765-283-5543, or follow her on twitter @CharStefanski