Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is a local food resource center that gives easy access to healthy food. There are five programs within MHC: food pantry, garden education, nutrition education, tool share and advocacy that help in feeding several communities.
The nonprofit organization suspended most of its programming when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, focusing on food distribution, but it is looking to slowly broaden its activities starting in August.
MHC President and CEO Amanda Nickey said the agency at 1100 W. Allen St. is usually a community space where patrons can walk through and select the food items they need. The pandemic prompted organizers to create a new pickup system last year so people could stay in their cars and maintain social distance.
The changes at MHC went well beyond its food distribution system. Pickup times and volunteer numbers took a drastic hit.
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“In March of 2020 we suspended all volunteer shifts. Our programs normally rely on the support of 300-400 volunteers, so our current staff of seven had to literally absorb the work of hundreds,” Nickey said. “We cut back on our open hours and days, eventually being open Tuesday-Thursday from 12-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m., for a drive through grocery pickup. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last 15 months in rain, snow or heat.”
The agency is currently using a small number of volunteers, all age 12 or older, who work in the pantry and the garden, according to MHC’s website. Organizers are planning to reopen the center to the public for limited hours starting Aug. 18, the website says. Mask use will be required for patrons, staff and volunteers at all times. Volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated and take a training session that includes safety protocols. Those interested in filling the limited number of volunteer slots can submit a form at https://bit.ly/3diZee2.
Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard also suffered a significant financial hit during the pandemic. The organization, which has grown significantly since its 1998 beginnings in a one-room garage, had to cancel its largest annual fundraiser in April 2020 and again in April 2021. Since the event normally cultivates multi-year pledges, it will have ripple effects for years.
“At this point last year we were able to access some emergency response grants thanks to local partners like the United Way, Hoosier Hills Food Bank and the Community Foundation. We saw an uptick in some individual giving as well,” Nickey said.
Donations can be made on the group’s website at https://bit.ly/2ULHNfT,
Nickey said Mother Hubbard Cupboard’s organizers envision a community where everyone has equal access to nutritious food, waste is minimized, and all members are healthy and self-reliant through the support of their neighbors.
She said the local community can help that cause by acknowledging the severe economic and racial disparities in our community.
“We encourage our community to challenge the idea that poverty and hunger are inevitable, connect with local, state and federal officials in support of long-term, comprehensive anti-poverty policies and social safety net programs that would help our community shift away from relying on charity to meet folks’ basic needs,” Nickey said.