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Indiana’s food banks race to fill a staffing shortage

(Photo supplied/Indiana National Guard)

Indiana’s food banks are racing to fill a staffing shortage.

The Indiana National Guard has been helping to staff food banks, but that deployment ends Wednesday as federal funding runs out. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, which coordinates 11 food banks across the state, says 450 people have answered a call for more volunteers in the last two weeks, but they’re still looking for several hundred more.

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry executive director Emily Weikert Bryant says food banks need more staff than usual during the pandemic, because they’ve changed procedures to minimize contact. Instead of having families pick out items from the shelves, food banks are assembling boxes of food in advance, Bryant says is more labor-intensive.

Bryant says food banks’ usual sources of volunteer haven’t been producing as much manpower, with senior citizen volunteers more at risk from the coronavirus hesitant to venture out, and college and corporate volunteer efforts facing their own disruptions.

The Family and Social Services Administration has set up a volunteer web portal at operationfood.in.gov.

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