ANDERSON, Ind. — Editor’s note: This is the 14th installment of a weekly series about the many services that the United Way of Madison County provides.
As part of the initiative for improving the overall health of the community, the United Way of Madison County is committed to providing good nutrition to those having difficulty securing this basic need.
A newer program funded by the organization nourishes both body and mind. By working through the Pendleton Community Public Library, the United Way allows the bookmobile to be combined with a food pantry that travels to people in need.
“People step onto the trailer and check out books, DVDs, have access to tax forms and can even get nonperishable food items,” said Lynn Hobbs, library director. “This means that people have access to food that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
The Read ’N’ Feed trailer visits Markleville, Ingalls and Pendleton every Thursday night, serving 25-28 households per week. Some of these households include six family members.
Pay Less Super Market donated a van to pull the cargo trailer and offers food at a steep discount. Marsh Supermarket supplies day-old bread and (during the summer months) the Pendleton Community Garden offers fresh vegetables. Other support is supplied by the South Madison Community Foundation, the township trustee’s office, and the local farmers market.
“People are very appreciative,” Hobbs said. “They have lost a job or had a serious health issue and for them to know that we have pooled our resources to help them out means a lot to them. They see a very caring community.”
Once clients are self-sufficient again, they often return to offer a donation of money or time. One woman even purchased a lottery ticket with the intentions of giving her winnings to Read ’N’ Feed. Hobbs was given the $40 spoils.
“When they are in a position to give, they do,” Hobbs said. “They know what it was like to be in need and have someone reach out to them.”
The United Way also works with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana as they not only meet residents’ need for food, but need for healthy choices.
“During the last four years we have started offering fresh produce,” said Tim Kean, president and CEO of the agency. “We feel good about that. It is making an impact on people’s diets by giving access to nutritious food.”