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Fox59 partners with Mayor Ballard to Pack the Pantries

Lucas Oil StadiumFeeding AmericaHurricane Sandy (2012)City Bank

Fox59 and Indianapolis Greg Ballard are on a mission to fight hunger.

The mayor launched Pack the Pantries Tuesday morning, the fifth year of the initiative to increase awareness about hunger. The program calls on local businesses, organizations and residents to donate food. Fox59 is a proud partner with the Mayor’s Front Porch Alliance. Lake City Bank, the Indianapolis Indians, the Indiana Ice, the Indianapolis Colts and the Indy Hunger Network are also participating partners.

It runs from now through Dec. 10.

While Hoosiers responded quickly to help in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, donation efforts depleted local food supplies. The need is greater than ever, according to Feeding America. The national organization said more than 33,000 people will get food assistance through places like Midwest and Gleaners food banks. The group said 160,900 people will be served each year.

Between 2006 and 2009, the nation saw a 46-percent increase in emergency food needs—Indianapolis saw an 87-percent increase over the same period.

The collection effort kicked off Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in conjunction with Kids Against Hunger’s Million Meal Marathon.

“Well, just bring down food if you can to Lucas Oil Stadium,” Ballard said on Fox59 Morning News. “There are different sites you can go to, you can bring them to the city county building if you want to so we’ll take care of it then also. So, we want people to all understand we’ll be bringing in cases of food to make sure everybody has plenty of food to make it through the winter.”

Ballard said the event started small five years ago—and can’t believe how big it’s become.

“When we did that event in November of 2008 I never imagined that it would morph into all of this and also so many people have come on board to form the Indy Hunger Network which is something else that is going to be tremendous for the city,” Ballard said.

“But, this Pack the Pantries right now, we have to make sure there is enough food getting through the winter. This is a big event now in the city of Indianapolis. I’m very proud so many partners have come on board.”

As evidenced by the outpouring of help following the Nov. 10 house explosion on the south side, Hoosiers are ready to help.

“Well it was really kind of unbelievable to see. I had so many people come up to me and tell me they have really never seen anything quite like that. And, I think that is true for most people,” Ballard said.

“It was seen that was obviously great tragedy, great horror at the time, but when I went into the gym and Mary Bryan (Elementary) School there I knew people were kind of shocked, but I knew at the same time they (understood) what happened. What struck me was that so many people had already come already. We had pastors in there, we had nurses, we had supplies start to come in there at that point in time almost immediately. It was amazing despite the tragedy that so many started giving right away.”

The campaign will culminate with the Caravan of Care on Dec. 14, when Ballard will lead a caravan of more than 20 trucks carrying tons of food from the City-County Building to the Midwest Food Bank.

Click here for more information about Pack the Pantries.

Click here for more information about Kids Against Hunger

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