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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

city business & economy

Hoosier Hills Food Bank to participate in annual food drive May 11, weeks after crash in warehouse

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In a partnership with the National Association of Letter Carriers and the US Postal Service, Hoosier Hills Food Bank will be participating in the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, the bank’s largest drive of the year. The food drive will take place nearly four weeks after a pick-up truck crashed into HHFB’s second warehouse, leaving 400 pounds of food to be disposed of.  

A medical emergency led a pick-up truck driver off southbound I-69 to crash into the Hoosier Hills Food Bank’s Dan Taylor Annex warehouse building April 21, which caused 400 pounds of food to be disposed of.  

Despite the accident's severity, no serious injuries were reported, and both the driver and passenger walked away from the scene. The back wall of the warehouse was destroyed, taking out an electrical breaker box and displacing and damaging food and supplies. 

At about 2 p.m. April 21, Julio Alonso, the executive director and CEO of Hoosier Hills Food Bank, was called out to the warehouse after the accident to meet with first responders from the Monroe Fire Protection District and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy. Each year, the food bank collects and distributes approximately 5.5 million pounds of food to its six-county region: Brown, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen and Orange. Alonso said the accident hasn’t prohibited the food bank’s ability to make its deliveries. 

“Fortunately, it probably happened at the best possible time,” Alonso said. “It happened on Sunday afternoon when we were closed.”  

The warehouse is on West Industrial Park Drive, where the back of the property faces southbound I-69. The warehouse is used primarily to sort food drive donations and was storing about 60,000 postcards for the Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. About 3,000 of the postcards were lost due to the incident, which slightly prohibited the food drive’s promotions.  

“The biggest issue for us right now has been some disruption and having to do a lot of cleanup to get all the debris out of there, getting the cards and the food sorted,” Alonso said. “Fortunately, this was our second warehouse. We have a main warehouse at the same location that was not impacted, so it really didn’t impact our day-to-day ability to conduct our programs and make our pickups and deliveries.”  

Alonso said Hoosier Hills is working on negotiations with contractors, the food bank’s insurance company and the driver’s insurance company to figure out repair costs. They are hoping that insurance will be able to cover most, if not all, of the damage and losses.  

Alonso said the best way the community can help Hoosier Hills Food Bank is by donations, both food and financial, and by volunteering. 

“There’s never enough donations to cover the need, unfortunately, so even the loss of a small amount — 400 pounds or so — of food has somewhat of an impact,” Alonso said. “Right now, the demand for food at pantries and kitchens and the agencies that we work with is as high as it’s ever been. It really hasn’t come down since the start of the pandemic because of inflation, but the support that we saw during the pandemic has dwindled, and we’re not seeing the same level of food and financial donations that we used to.”  

According to Feeding America, the food insecurity rate of Monroe County was 12.2% in 2021, meaning that at times, 17,050 people lacked access to enough food for an active and healthy life.  

Those interested in participating in the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on May 11 can leave a bag or box of food near their mailbox. The donations will be picked up by a letter carrier, food bank staff or volunteers. More information can be found on the Hoosier Hills Food Bank Facebook page and the National Association of Letter Carriers website. 

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