11:01 AM

NW Ind. Food Banks Combat Hunger With Wing Assistance

Maj. Bill Vendramin
Public Affairs Officer
Indiana Wing

Indiana Wing members began providing assistance April 23 to two food pantries in Northwest Indiana, both in Gary, as the COVID-19 pandemic creates new challenges for such facilities in the area.

On their first day, eight Indiana Wing members assisted at Sojourner Truth House while five others assisted at Trinity United Methodist Church. All packed and loaded vehicles with food in a drive-through operation.

Allyson Vaulx, Food Bank of Northwest Indiana director of development, said the Indiana Wing’s assistance “allows our agencies to reopen during a time when it is needed most.”

The wing members "set up the drive-through structure for us and respectfully gave out large boxes of food to almost 500 households (between 1,000-2,000 individuals) no matter the weather or the crowd,” said Sister Peg Spindler at Sojourner Truth House. “This is what it takes to beat such a pandemic—everyone working together—and that’s what this partnership is doing."

The 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 in Northwest Indiana.

Before the pandemic, nearly 100,000 residents, or some 12% of the region’s population, were food insecure. During the pandemic estimates have risen to more than 400,000 because of layoffs and other unforeseen circumstances.

As a Total Force partner and the official civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, Civil Air Patrol is aligned with First Air Force to rapidly respond to non-military threats domestically. In this situation members work as a component of the U.S. Air Force in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, and provide humanitarian assistance.

“We’re grateful of the selfless service CAP volunteers provide as they go out into their local communities and serve others,” said Joe Sanders, deputy director of the National Security and Preparedness Center, First Air Force, Air Forces Northern, headquartered at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. “Our thoughts are with the people of Indiana during this time of great need.”