Mobile food pantry rolls into town


Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry and Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana presented the second Jackson County Mobile Pantry on Tuesday.

The two-hour event was in the Cummins Seymour Engine Plant overflow parking lot along East Fourth Street.

Free food was available on a first-come, first-served basis as long as supplies lasted. All Jackson County residents were welcome to line up in their vehicles for the drive-thru pantry.

“Last month, we had just a crazy turnout and people were arriving hours early, and it really clogged up the parking lot,” said Megan Cherry, executive director of Anchor House. “It affected how people could maneuver, so it was quite congested the first hour or so. This time, we were ahead of the curve, and it was a much better process.”

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At the mobile pantry, Cherry helped guide cars into the line.

Due to the setup time and getting cones in place with help from the Seymour and Brownstown police departments, vehicles were to start lining up for the pantry at 2 p.m., but they started coming in around 1:30 p.m.

Seymour Officer Ben Miller and Brownstown Officer Ryan Cherry were on hand to keep things orderly and help direct people where they needed to go once they entered the parking lot.

Using a bar of soap, Officer Cherry marked the number of households needing food boxes on the windshield of each vehicle. If a friend or neighbor was unable to be at the mobile pantry, another person was allowed to pick up an extra food box for that family.

Around 4:45 p.m., a man on a bicycle pedaled through the parking lot with a food box balanced on the handlebars.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Officer Cherry said as he watched the determined man ride away.

Volunteers working Tuesday wore face masks and observed social distancing. As each car approached the front of the line, the drivers were asked to keep their windows up as Indiana National Guard members loaded food into each vehicle’s trunk, back hatch or truck bed.

Sgt. Marcus White was among the National Guardsmen helping guide cars through the two lines, and he also helped load food.

“We’re stationed at Gleaners and they do all the mobilization, and we assist them distribute food out in the communities,” White said. “Last week, we cleared an entire school parking lot in 20 minutes.”

Each household received assorted pasta, canned goods, cereal, trail mix, pancake mix, peanut butter, canned ham, breakfast cereal, bags of frozen chicken and two bags of onions.

The first mobile pantry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was conducted earlier last month, and Megan Cherry said around 450 households were served.

The countywide mobile pantry with Gleaners is not done on a regular basis in Seymour.

“This is strictly just trying to help meet the needs of this pandemic and people being out of work,” Megan said. “We are a Gleaners agency, so aside from the small school pantries, we’re the only Gleaners agency in town.”

She said they have been in close contact with Gleaners throughout the pandemic to make sure they could bring as much food as possible to Jackson County.

An estimated 40% of people seeking food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic had not needed help before, according to

Families typically receive one emergency food box per household and also receive some fresh produce and frozen meat. Each mobile pantry varies based on what is available.

“We’re really appreciative to Cummins for letting us use their parking lot,” Becky Voelz, Gleaners’ local service manager for the southern part of the state, said while helping direct cars to the exit. “When we arrived today at 3 p.m., there were a lot of cars lined up, and it was a beautiful sight.”

Brianna Henderson, a SNAP outreach specialist for Gleaners, also helped direct cars in the parking lot.

On Tuesday, the Gleaners semi held a total of 5,507 pounds of food. Voelz said it was loaded for 600 households, and by the end of the day, food was distributed to 501 families.

The Gleaners mobile pantry is tentatively scheduled to come back around the end of May at the same location and time. Information will be released once plans are finalized.

Gleaners also hosts mobile pantries for senior citizens in the western part of the county.

The next senior pantry is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon May 15 at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, 476 E. County Road 100S, Brownstown, for Jackson County residents ages 55 and up.

The Community Foundation of Jackson County recently awarded a $2,500 grant to Gleaners from its Jackson County COVID-19 Response Fund to help the agency meet the growing demand for food assistance in the wake of the pandemic.

“We have been a support of Gleaners with grants in the past to help fund its BackSacks program in our community’s elementary schools,” said Dan Davis, president and chief executive officer of the foundation. “We hope this latest grant from the COVID-19 Response Fund will help Gleaners confront growing food insecurity caused by layoffs from the shutdown of many jobs across Jackson County. We appreciate their efforts.”

BackSacks is a weekend food program for kids. Each BackSack includes shelf-stable food that does not need refrigeration. There are seven food items and a bonus item.

The foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund also has provided grants to Waymaker Ministries Inc. to help feed those in need and to purchase backpack misters for the Seymour Fire Department and Jackson County Emergency Medical Services.

The misters help enhance decontamination procedures of ambulances and firetrucks making medical runs.

The foundation also has awarded grants from two donor-advised funds to food pantries operated by Anchor House, Community Provisions of Jackson County Inc. and the Boys Girls Club of Seymour to help with their COVID-19 work.

To donate to the Jackson County COVID-19 Response Fund, send a check to the foundation at P.O. Box 1231, Seymour, IN 47274 or go online at

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