By Leah Sander
MENTONE — The demand for food is not letting up as the pandemic continues.
That was apparent earlier this week when more than 200 families were helped through a food distribution in Mentone.
On Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana gave out food to 209 families. Anyone who wished could drive up and pick up fresh produce and prepackaged food.
Volunteers as well as Indiana National Guardsmen deployed by the state to assist with COVID-19 relief helped hand out the food.
“We’ve gone up quite a bit in what we’ve been passing out just recently,” said Food Bank truck driver Ronald Albert, referring to families needing food during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve been having numbers up over 300 in a lot of places we go.”
“With the whole COVID thing, businesses are shutting down and since you have no income, you’ve got to find a way to get food somewhere,” said Indiana National Guard Spc. Sterling Goins.
The only question the Food Bank asked of people driving up was how many people they needed food for. The Food Bank didn’t run out of food during its two-hour distribution in Mentone, but oftentimes that’s the case, said Albert and Goins.
Albert said the only common pattern he noticed amongst the people coming on Wednesday was that “most of them have kids.”
Albert travels across northern Indiana distributing food. Stops he’s also gone to include Burket, Elkhart, Warsaw and Michigan City.
The food is provided to the bank by the state and federal government and agencies. Feeding America funded the Mentone drive as part of COVID-19 relief.
“I feel I have a very rewarding job,” said Albert. “It’s just great … knowing that what I’m doing is helping the people.”
Volunteers Max Mock, Sue Mock and Teri Jarrette all came from Warsaw to help.
“To come together to help people is so rewarding … and to work with these young men from the National Guard and Ron who’s spearheading it, what a great day and what a good group of people to be around,” said Sue Mock.
To learn how to donate to the Food Bank or volunteer at food distribution events, visit the organization’s website feedindiana.org.