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Feeding Indy: Free food distributions around the city

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Free food was being passed out at the HealthNet located at 2855 N. Keystone Ave. last Wednesday.

The distribution was part of the city’s effort to tackle hunger within neighborhoods classified as food deserts.

RELATED: ‘Banner day for food access’: Council approves new nutrition, food policy division

“Many of us are faced with living and being in communities where there is low access and low availability to nutritional food,” said Food Equity and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Office of Public Health and Safety Tikilia Tinker-Martin.

“I’m coming from a single mother who didn’t drive. We walked to the store or caught the bus or cab there. It was important for a store to be close to us. Now, we’re seeing stores are constantly being shut down.”

Feeding Indy: Free food

Feeding Indy: Free food distributions around the city
Families gathered July 19 outside of the HealthNet location on Keystone for a free food distribution event. (Photo/Jade Jackson)

According to a 2022 report published by the Indianapolis Community Food Access Coalition, more than 200,000 Indianapolis residents live in food deserts where access to healthy food is limited.

She said HealthNet asked the department to bring fresh produce and other foods to their patients, clients and people within the Martindale-Brightwood community.

The food came from donations made throughout the Midwest, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and local farmers in the city. They served close to 2,000 pounds of food at the event.

RELATED: Local farm works to end food deserts

Maria Lopez had just finished her doctor’s appointment at HealthNet when she learned of the free groceries being given out.

“I was super happy because I needed more groceries for my family. It wasn’t difficult or hard to sign up. They have people out here to help me with wagons to carry it to my car with me and my daughter,” said Lopez.

Lopez lives in Martindale-Brightwood and said there are not many food options with fresh produce.

Tackling food deserts around the city

Feeding Indy: Free food distributions around the city
For more information on food distribution events visit IndyFoodPolicy.org. (Photo/Jade Jackson)

She often buys snacks from the Dollar General around the corner for her children but said she has to go out of her way to get to an actual grocery store that sells produce.

“I want my children to be strong. I want them to grow up strong, but they can’t do that if they don’t eat the right things. I’m happy the people are here to help,” said Lopez.

Ijanay Thompson said she was driving by the food distribution event and wanted to see what was going on.

After providing volunteers with the number of people residing in her household and her zip code, she was able to take home fresh produce.

“No questions asked or nothing. You don’t have to tell me twice that there’s free anything anywhere, but on a serious note, this is something that is really good, and I just texted my girlfriends to come stop by for their kids and families,” said Thompson.

Tinker-Martin said her department usually holds at least four outreach events a month.

You can find out where other food distributions will be held throughout Aug. and beyond HERE.

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at 317-607-5792 or by email jadej@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON

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