Indy Community Pantry is a nonprofit with a novel idea: Help people living in Indianapolis food deserts by daily stocking cleverly placed refrigerators and dried goods pantries. These are typically located in areas in which people may lack easy access to food, and who worry about the stigma associated with attending food banks.
“A lot of people might be embarrassed to go to a food bank, or they might feel ashamed. But with these drive-up food pantries, people can stop by anytime or even at night when no one will see them,” says DeAndrea Rayner, founder of Indy Community Pantry.
DeAndrea first came up with the idea for drive-up pantries right around the height of the pandemic in 2020. “I would see homeless people about, and everyone else was inside their homes. And I thought, with no one being able to come out, how are the homeless going to get help or be able to eat?” Rayner says. “I put out my first drive up food pantry on 29th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Street, which had this old, recycled newspaper stand.”
Surprised to find her pantry always empty, Rayner would refill the dry goods pantry every day to keep up with the demand for items.
“I knew someone was utilizing this, so I wondered how a fridge would do,” Rayner says. “This need is what inspired me to put my first refrigerator out. Then I put out another and another, and each would be empty every day.” Knowing there was a need for her unique kind of service, Rayner founded Indy Community Pantry, which is still expanding.
Anyone can help the organization by keeping the pantries and refrigerators filled with necessities. Currently, there are five dried goods pantry locations and two refrigerator locations. “We have a list on our website, but we hope to expand to more than sixteen drive-up pantries,” Rayner says.
Anyone with a need for food can use this budding resource. “Anyone can come and take what they want or leave what they want,” Rayner says.
The community has been quick to support Rayner and Indy Community Pantry. “As soon as I posted the first location on Instagram, a tattoo artist at Body Animations started donating refrigerators. Trader Joes donates food. Hangtime Indy on Meridian has taken me on a refrigerator shopping spree,” Rayner says, detailing the positive support she’s received.
The organization is always looking for donation items, and are eager to accept just about anything. “Anybody can donate or drop off or send donations through our website,” Rayner says. “We will take many items, but cannot take seafood or raw meat.” Items should also be sealed — no homemade items, please — and the organization gladly takes most household items, such as masks, cleaning products, sanitary items, baby food and child products.
For more info about Indy Community Pantry, visit indycommunitypantry.org.
Christ Missionary Baptist Church, 1001 Eugene St.
Far Eastside Neighborhood Center, 8902 E. 38th St.
Dried Goods Pantry Locations:
29th & MLK
27th & Harding
10th & Denny
The Lakes at Crossbridge Apartments at 38th & Franklin
Downtown under the bridge by The Slippery Noodle