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Empowering Indy helps launch pop-up food pantry on east side

For the last 10 years, the organization has been helping families in an area east of downtown Indianapolis that's experienced high crime rates.

INDIANAPOLIS — For the last 10 years, an organization called Empowering Indy has been helping families in an area east of downtown Indianapolis that's experienced high crime rates.

Members of Church 52 started Empowering Indy to help those in the community thrive, with much success.

Now, they are teaming up with the Midwest Food Bank, to bring in "Feed The Need," a new pop-up food distribution program.

At first, members started with the Christmas project – a yearlong fundraiser to provide families in their communities with necessities like shoes, clothes and toys.

The group, which has grown over the years, decided they needed a yearlong program to provide more help.

RELATED: Central Indiana food pantries see spike in need; new program offers free produce

Jamie Inskeep is excited about the number of volunteers from Church 52 that keep looking for ways to help.

"We started with just a handful of volunteers, and now, we're into the hundreds," Inskeep said. "We went from serving 25 kids, [and] this past year, we served over 650, so it's just grown every single year. So we developed this nonprofit in response to that."

Now, they are partnered with the Midwest Food Bank to bring much-needed food relief to those impacted by the current economy and with food insecurity on the east and southeast sides of Indianapolis.

John Whitaker, executive director for Midwest Food Bank Indiana, said these pop-up distributions will be instrumental in supporting many facing their greatest time of need.

"People that were on the edge of poverty have fallen over across the line and are in poverty for the first time. And so we're seeing about a 25% increase in need," Whitaker said.

RELATED: High school culinary teams compete to raise money for Indianapolis families

Other churches have been successful with pop-up shops, and Feed The Need knows the demand is there – but not just for food.

"This will be our first opportunity to feed families that we are also serving at Christmas time. We're calling it the Feed The Need as a way to say that we're going to feed your immediate needs, but we're also going to help the other needs in your life," Inskeep said. "We're hoping it will become a hub, a pop-up place where people know they can come and not just get groceries, but also resources such as ... affordable childcare and job opportunities and free haircuts and child support services."

The weekend pop-ups will help about 500 people in an area of Indianapolis with the highest percentage of poverty in Marion County.

RELATED: Indianapolis church giving back with free food pantry on east side

The first Feed The Need pop-up will be held Saturday, July 9, at Church 52 Family Worship Center on Brooksville Road from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Families will get free groceries and have a convenient pickup every second Saturday of the month.

NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the name to Empowering Indy.

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