Photos by JJ Kaplan
With thanksgiving and the holidays approaching, it is natural for our focus to be directed to those less fortunate and those in the Zionsville community that provide assistance to those in need. The Zionsville Food Pantry is one such group that is providing an invaluable service to feed the needy in Boone County year round.
Every Friday between noon and 2 pm, families in Boone County can come to the Food Pantry to
receive a bag of food and other essential items. Miraculously, the Zionsville Food Pantry is run by a dedicated all-volunteer team, headed by Nancy Thompson.
When and where the Food Pantry was started is unclear. However, it appears to have been at its present location in the Zionsville Presbyterian Church on Michigan Road since at least 1992. According to Nancy Thompson who has been its Director since 2003, the Pantry has grown steadily over the years to where it is now the largest food pantry serving Boone County.
Recently the Pantry joined into an association with Gleaners Food Bank and also became a participant in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (“TEFAP”). A federal program, TEFAP is essentially a matching grant program. For every dollar of food or money that is contributed directly to the Pantry, TEFAP matches that amount in food that the Pantry can order from the Gleaners Food Bank.
Based on direct contributions to the Pantry last year, the Pantry through TEFAP was able to receive 82,000 pounds of food from Gleaners. In order to continue to provide that amount of food to the needy, the Pantry must generate, from direct monetary or food contributions, an amount equaling at least 41,000 lbs. of food. Because it now has requirements to meet, it is critical that the Pantry reaches its goal.
To be sure, the Zionsville Presbyterian Church is a great supporter of the Pantry by providing the facilities to house the Pantry’s operations and through the efforts of its parishioners. However, it would be a mistake to think of the Food Pantry as solely a ZPC program. The Food Pantry is truly a Zionsville community-wide effort.
A number of other local churches and community organizations provide support to the Pantry. For example, proceeds from the St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church’s Oktoberfest were contributed to the Food Pantry. In the summer, the Knights of Columbus help organize the Lanny Parsley Memorial Golf Tournament which also contributes to the Food Pantry.
Local civic organizations such as the Lions Club and Tri Kappa take turns donating time and resources to the Pantry. One of the Pantry’s biggest supporters is the Zionsville school system whose assistance in conducting food drives within its schools is essential to the sustainability of the Food Pantry. Last year, Pleasant View Elementary’s food drive generated 5,000 lbs. of food for the Pantry while Ascension Elementary brought in 10,000 lbs. of food. Every elementary school in the Zionsville Community School system has a food drive sometime during the year.
Beginning November 4, Pleasant View and Stonegate Elementary Schools will kick-off their annual food drives with the assistance of their respective PTO. Union Elementary starts its food drive November 6. This year’s food drive at Pleasant View will be directed by PTO members Elizabeth Smith and Lisa Sheridan. Competitions between the elementary school classes are set up to motivate the students to maximize their efforts with a little extra recess as the reward.
In what has become an annual tradition since 2002, ZCHS Head Football Coach Larry
McWhorter and members of the ZCHS football team volunteer to spend some time with the Pleasant View Elementary students and also help move the thousands of pounds of food generated by the food drive from the school to the Pantry. According to Nancy Thompson, Coach McWhorter has been a tremendous supporter of the Food Pantry over the years.
The Zionsville community should take great pride in the generosity and support it has given the Zionsville Food Pantry through the years. Anyone who wants to volunteer time, money or food to the Food Pantry should contact the Food Pantry through its email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food can be donated throughout the year by dropping it off in the grocery cart located in the lobby of the Zionsville Presbyterian Church or at the Food Pantry on Thursdays between 10 am-12 pm. In addition to food contributions, the Food Pantry presently has a need for a large freezer. Please email the Pantry if you would like to donate a freezer.
We would like to give a special thank you to Angie Campbell whose assistance with this story was invaluable.