The story of how the Indianapolis Division of the Midwest Food Bank started and grew to its current state is analogous to the parable of the mustard seed in the Bible (Matthew 13:31). It began with one of our current board members being introduced to the first Midwest Food Bank division in Bloomington, Illinois in the summer of 2005, when it was still located on the Kieser farm. That was a Saturday, and literally there was little interest in doing something similar in Indiana.
The next day, in an Indianapolis church, the board member met a man from Liberia, Africa who ran a Christian school of about 500 children. He needed food. That led to several current board members getting involved to ship food supplied by the Midwest Food Bank in Bloomington, Illinois to Liberia via Firestone ships. So in 2005, 2006, and 2007 containers of food were shipped to Liberia and the Indianapolis men visited the school to see the results.
During this time, Indianapolis was asked by Bloomington leadership to consider starting an Indy division. But the interest was not high as the focus was to help the needy in Liberia, Africa. Finally five couples got together to pray about what to do. From there it seemed simple and clear. Someone said they would donate the current land and building if the couples would move forward. It seemed God was saying “yes” and how could they say “no”? So they agreed to move forward.
In late 2007 and early 2008, the building was renovated and in March 2008 the first load-out took place distributing free food to about 30 agencies who serve needy Indiana families. In that first year, 2008, $3.5 million of free food was distributed to agencies who serve the needy in Indiana.
Fast forward to 2014. It is estimated that $20 million in food will be distributed to 260+ agencies in Indiana with over 3,000 volunteers helping make this possible. This all will be accomplished on a cash operating budget of a little over $500,000 or almost 40:1 leverage, in other words $4,000 of free food distributed for every $100 donated to the Indianapolis division. This has been a movement of generosity with many amazing stories. God has miraculously grown the mustard seed! As William Carey wrote, we should expect great things from God and attempt great things for God!