CAP Passes 3-Million-Meal Mark During Pandemic
Maj. Bill Vendramin
Public Affairs Officer
More than 100 volunteer members the Indiana Wing assisted four food banks and pantries over Memorial Day weekend, pushing Civil Air Patrol’s total meals distributed to over 3 million during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 23, Indiana Wing members contributed a single-day total of over 600 volunteer hours of support, helping distribute 114,554 meals to Indiana residents.
“During my visit to Indianapolis Saturday, I was inspired by members of Indiana Wing—cadets and seniors alike—who selflessly served their community, the state of Indiana and the nation,” said Brig. Gen. Ed Phelka, CAP’s national vice commander. “Congratulations to all of you who worked so hard to help us reach this significant milestone!”
The largest food distribution event occurred on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which normally hosts the Indianapolis 500 during the Memorial Day weekend. Because of the pandemic, that race has been postponed until August. Instead, the speedway provided safe space for Gleaners Food Bank’s “Mega Fresh Mobile” food drive-through program, which distributed 92,137 meals with 73 Indiana Wing members providing support.
The event focused on providing fresh fruits, vegetables and frozen meat to area residents.
“Among the many challenges of responding to a pandemic, the ability to distribute fresh, perishable food has been among the most difficult,” said John Elliott, Gleaners Food Bank president/CEO. “With many of our traditional partners either closed or reducing distributions, we have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen meats to share.”
Another 19 Indiana Wing members volunteered in Crown Point, Fort Wayne and Bloomington. They helped distribute 22,417 meals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a growing problem with food insecurity—defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a “lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life”—affecting many communities across Indiana.
Before the pandemic, about 12% of the state’s population were described as food insecure. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem and dramatically increased the need for food.
As a Total Force partner and the Air Force auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol is aligned with First Air Force to rapidly respond to non-military threats domestically. In this situation members worked as a component of the U.S. Air Force in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity.
“CAP is a crucial mainstay of our First Air Force operations as an auxiliary capability with a long history of serving the nation,” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Radliff, reserve advisor to the commander, First Air Force (AFNORTH). “From meals delivered, to air transport, to staffing up city emergency operations centers, and more, their selfless service is essential to our country’s pandemic response efforts.”
The Indiana Wing has been supporting food distribution services since April 15. To date, wing members have volunteered nearly 400 volunteer-days of time and prepared or helped distribute approximately 1.1 million meals.