Pantry, center join forces: Partnership will provide free food for area teenagers

GREENFIELD — In the lobby of The Landing, neon note cards with phrases — “my safe haven,” and “my second family” — surround a group photo pinned to a cork board.

Each touches on a theme of acceptance and safety, echoing the motto of the teen center, “a safe place to be real.”

Weekly meetings pair worship with a recovery program for whatever troubles teens face, whether it’s drugs, depression, anger or family problems, officials said. Now, the clients of The Landing, ages 13 to 19, can add “a safe place to get food” to the downtown Greenfield nonprofit’s offerings.

After weekly Wednesday night meetings, young people can pick up a bag or two stacked high with non-perishable food items to take home through the nonprofit’s new partnership with United Way of Central Indiana and Gleaners Food Bank.

Landing officials teamed up with Jeannie Roberts, volunteer coordinator with United Way of Central Indiana, to help feed the young people coming every week to The Landing. The partnership provides some 12 to 16 bags of food per month to teens attending weekly programs, officials said.

One young woman gratefully accepted several bags of food Wednesday, telling leaders there are five people living in her house. This week, the bags contained items including cereal, canned goods, pasta, beans and rice.

Gleaners provides four different combinations of food per month, sometimes focusing on canned fruit and vegetables or other shelf-stable foods, Roberts said. United Way wanted to find another way to provide food to teens in need, she said.

“We’re trying to reach the teen population in a place where they don’t feel threatened by us being here,” she said. “This is a great group of kids to reach out to, and hopefully this will give them a boost.”

Even so, volunteers with The Landing know at least some of the nearly 50 people who attend each Wednesday are eating their first meal of the day before the programs begin, said volunteer Grant Ford.

Teens and volunteers alike are thankful for the meals provided each Wednesday, Ford said. They are dealing with different types of problems, and some don’t know where they’ll get their next meal, Ostewig said.

“They don’t say a lot about it, but they’re thankful,” said director Linda Ostewig. “It’s hard for them to say ‘Yeah, we need food.’”

Both Roberts, as an ambassador for Gleaners, and The Landing, hopes to expand services to the Fortville-McCordsville area next year.

At a glance

The Landing, 18 W. South St., Greenfield, offers counseling, recovery programs and worship for county youth age 13 to 19. Now, take-home bags of food area also available weekly.

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Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.