Hunger in Indy: How you can help ensure that families have enough food for the holidays

For many Americans, the biggest challenge that Thanksgiving poses is deciding what not to eat.  But for millions of our neighbors throughout the United States and in our city, not having enough food – and not having access to affordable and nutritious food – is an everyday reality, even during the holidays.

“We have seen an uptick in the number of families that are experiencing some sort of food emergency within the zip codes we serve,” Jason Courtney, special projects coordinator at Shepherd Community Center, said. “We deliver to an average of 20 to 25 households each weekday, and many of those homes have more than six family members living in them. Food insecurity is real in our neighborhood, and we are meeting it head on through our food delivery program and our food pantry, which is open every Saturday.”

Courtney said a variety of factors drive hunger on Indy’s near east side, including the current spike in inflation, which is pushing up the cost of food, housing and other essential needs. 

“We have families who go without food every day,” he said. “I’ve met plenty of people while delivering food who tell me they haven’t had food for two or three days. I know that some of our kids who attend our school and after school program get their only meals for the day through the meals that Shepherd provides. Things happen, and people get into situations that are complicated, and we may not understand how they ended up there, but we can certainly have compassion and help them rather than condemn them.”

Courtney said people and organizations can help in a variety of ways not only as the holidays approach, but throughout the year. That includes volunteering to deliver food boxes, serving at the food pantry, and donating money to Shepherd or other organizations that help to feed people in need.  

“Volunteering at the pantry on Saturdays at Shepherd and helping us deliver food to our neighbors are options that allow individuals to engage with our neighbors face-to-face,” he said.  “That’s a much richer experience than donating money, which is important, too. It’s rewarding to know that you are making a difference in the lives of a family when you are delivering food to their door. You are being part of the community. Part of the solution. There’s so much divisiveness these days. It’s nice to be able to do something that helps build and repair bridges in the community.”

To learn more about how Shepherd is breaking the cycle of poverty through its food pantry and other services, go to:

To volunteer at the pantry or to help deliver meals, go to:

To donate to help families get the food they need, go to: