PANTRY PACKERS: Major food drive aims to aid groups ahead of holidays

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Brian Lott, coordinator for the food drive, directs a drop-off in the Walmart parking lot during last year's drive. He says the timing of the Rotary Club campaign in late summer is deliberate: The influx of food now helps pantries prepare for the increased demand during the holiday season. File photo

GREENFIELD — Many know the feeling of making a quick dash to the grocery to “grab something” and walking out with an unexpected armload.

Greenfield Rotarians are hoping shoppers will grab a few unplanned items in the coming weeks and drop them off at the Fill a Truck, Fill a Pantry food drive outside Walmart on Sept. 12.

The annual food drive takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day outside the Greenfield Walmart, 1965 N. State St.

The Rotary club is also playing host to a blood drive that same day, same location, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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It takes a lot of food to fill a semi-trailer truck, which is exactly what the Rotarians are hoping for.

The need is significant: According to the hunger relief organization Feeding America, 9.9% of Hancock County’s population, or about 7,320 people, was considered food insecure in 2018, the latest year for which data has been compiled. The organization projects 14.8% of the population will be considered food insecure in 2020 because of effects of the pandemic. Based on current population estimates, that’s over 11,000 people.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as lacking “consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.”

Last year, the Fill a Truck, Fill a Pantry effort netted enough non-perishable items to deliver 1,000 total cases of food to eight different pantries throughout Hancock County.

The Hancock County Food Pantry and Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen were among the largest recipients, but individual church pantries throughout the county also benefited — from New Palestine to McCordsville.

“Every one of these areas has people who are in need of assistance with food,” said Greenfield fire marshal Brian Lott, who oversees the Rotary Club’s service projects.

“A lot of …people tend to donate food around Thanksgiving or Christmas, but during the summertime, people don’t think about doing that. That’s why we do ours in late summer, to help restock pantries and prepare for fall before the holidays hit,” he said.

The blood drive that day is in memory of Riley Settergren, an Eastern Hancock High School student who died in a vehicle crash three years ago.

The Rotary Club is bringing in the Versiti Bloodmobile to honor him and his family.

Riley’s dad, Jay Settergren, said he and his family are humbled by the community’s ongoing love and support.

“It’s so nice that they’re doing this in his memory,” he said of his son.

“It’s great to see people continue to show up and help with different causes that give back to our community. The blood drive is not only helping our community, but really anywhere in Indianapolis and throughout the state where there’s a blood shortage,” said Settergren, who hopes big numbers of people turn out for both the blood drive and food collection.

The Fill a Truck, Fill a Pantry event dates to 2018, filling a void that was left from a previous food collection drive called 40,000 Pounds of Giving.

That food drive was held for more than 10 years, by former Hancock Hope House director Carl Denny. The last year for that drive was 2016, followed by a year with no food drive until the local Rotarians revived and renamed the mission and added the blood drive in Settergren’s memory.

In addition to filling the truck, Rotarians also collect food and drinks from corporate donors and partner with the local Sertoma and Kiwanis clubs to buy additional items.

Kiwanis and Sertoma clubs help sponsor the annual Rotarian-led initiative, along with the city of Greenfield, Keihin and Walmart.

“We hope to see a big turnout on Sept. 12 for both the food drive and the blood drive to help those in need,” Lott said.

Blood donors are asked to go online and log into versiti.org/indianblood, then search for sponsor code D932 to set up an appointment, so that you will not have to stand in line.

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Fill a Truck, Fill a Pantry food drive and Riley Settergren Memorial Blood Drive

When: Sept. 12

Food drive: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Blood drive: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Walmart parking lot, 1965 N. State St., Greenfield

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