Neighbors Helping Neighborhoods

A pop-up pantry at Commonway Church. Photo providedA pop-up pantry at Commonway Church. Photo provided

By: Jackson Eflin, Second Harvest Food Bank—

Muncie, IN—The sky makes overtures of rain and a line of cars wraps around Heritage Apostolic Tabernacle’s parking lot, out onto Wabash Street and down the road.  Chandra Parks, of Muncie Southside Neighborhood Association, and other volunteers are packing bags of carrots, potatoes, canned beef, cheese, orange juice, and cleaning supplies into bags. They’re staying just ahead of Chandra, who along with her mother are checking in with the families as they load the bags into the backs of cars. This pop-up pantry will serve 180 families this week, just as they have every week since March 27th.

This unprecedented time requires unprecedented approaches to reducing the impact of hunger on our communities. That’s why Second Harvest Food Bank rented large freightliner vans and contacted organizations all over Muncie to create pop-up pantries in areas of greatest need. Especially in areas that are food deserts with limited grocery store options, local organizations are taking up the slack.

One such organization is Commonway Church in Downtown Muncie. “Since the Emily Kimbrough Neighborhood is just to the east and Old West End Neighborhood is to the west of Commonway Church, this fits our mission goal to be a good neighbor. We serve families that drive up in cars, on bikes, riding lawn mowers, or on foot. The appreciation hangs in the air like a huge hug. Some can’t say thank you enough times” says Nicci Lunsford – one of the members of the church that initiated the outreach.

The need for social distancing creates unique logistical challenges as the line of waiting cars spills beyond the parking lot. Photo provided

The need for social distancing creates unique logistical challenges as the line of waiting cars spills beyond the parking lot. Photo provided

In addition to food, Commonway Church also includes diapers in their weekly distribution. Diaper need is an often overlooked aspect of resource-insecurity. One in three families report not being able to afford adequate diapers. By meeting this need, Second Harvest is helping prevent compounding health complications for young children that put an even greater strain on under-resourced parents.

Strategic Partnerships are key to the process. An organization may have volunteers, but no location, or a location, but no volunteers. By leveraging partnerships Second Harvest already has, we are able to create ties that hold communities together.

Second Harvest Board Member Del Brinson organized a van distribution with one of our current Big Idea Schools, Cowan Elementary, with the help of seven dedicated volunteers from Corinth United Methodist Church. “Many of them were already volunteers with The Big Idea, so when schools dismissed in March, it was a natural fit for them to continue to assist as needed” said Brinson. Cowan serves between 225 and 250 K-12 students each week.

If attendance is a little lower, it’s an opportunity to help other groups with leftovers going to organizations like the YWCA, A Better Way, Muncie Mission, and Motivate our Minds.

Even though we’re all taking steps to social distance, that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a strong community that takes care of each other. We at Second Harvest Food Bank are grateful for all of our partners who have stepped up to meet the rising need with determination and innovation.

Watch our website,, as we continue to share stories of how communities are coming together to help neighbors in need.


About Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana is the region’s largest hunger-relief organization serving over 100 pantries and meal programs in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph and Wabash Counties. With a vision to see people in East Central Indiana free from hunger and self-sufficient, our mission is to provide help for today by feeding the hungry and hope for tomorrow by addressing the causes of food insecurity while empowering people toward self-sufficiency. Our goal is to feed East Central Indiana’s most vulnerable residents through a region-wide network of member agencies and programs and to engage our region in the fight to end hunger. Each year, the Second Harvest Food Bank network provides assistance to more than 67,000 low-income people, including more than 20,000 children and nearly 5,200 seniors.