Local Spotlight: Indy Community Pantry

Indy Community Pantry is a nonprofit with an innovative idea: to help people living in the food deserts of Indianapolis by stocking smartly placed refrigerators and dry food pantries daily. These are usually located in areas where people may not have easy access to food and are concerned about the stigma associated with going to food banks.

“A lot of people might be embarrassed to go to a food bank, or they might be ashamed. But with these drive-through pantries, people can stop at any time or even overnight when no one will see them,” says DeAndrea Rayner, Founder of Indy Community Pantry.

DeAndrea first came up with the idea for a drive-through pantry during the height of the pandemic in 2020. “I was seeing homeless people, and everyone was inside their homes. And I thought, since nobody could get out, how could the homeless get help or be able to eat? Rayner said. “I set up my first drive-through pantry on 29th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Street, which had this old recycled newsstand.”

Surprised to find her pantry always empty, Rayner stocked the pantry with dry goods every day to keep up with the demand for items.

“I knew someone was using this, so I was wondering how a refrigerator would do,” Rayner says. “It was this need that inspired me to bring out my first refrigerator. Then I took out another and another, and each one was empty every day. Knowing there was a need for his unique type of service, Rayner founded Indy Community Pantry, which is still expanding.

Anyone can help the organization by keeping pantries and refrigerators stocked with necessities. Currently, there are five dried produce pantry locations and two refrigerator locations. “We have a list on our website, but we’re hoping to expand it to more than sixteen pantries,” says Rayner.

Anyone with a need for food can use this grass resource. “Anyone can come and take what they want or leave what they want,” Rayner says.

The community was quick to support Rayner and Indy Community Pantry. “As soon as I posted the first location on Instagram, a tattoo artist from Body Animations started donating fridges. Trader Joes is donating food. Hangtime Indy on Meridian took me on a fridge buying frenzy” , says Rayner, detailing the positive support she has received.

The organization is always looking for donation items and is eager to accept just about anything. “Anyone can donate or deposit or send donations through our website,” says Rayner. “We will take many items, but we cannot take seafood or raw meat.” Items must also be sealed – no homemade items, please – and the organization happily takes most household items, such as masks, cleaning supplies, sanitary items, baby food and children’s products.

For more information on Indy Community Pantry, visit indycommunitypantry.org.

Refrigerator locations:

Christ Missionary Baptist Church, 1001 Eugene St.

Far Eastside Neighborhood Center, 8902 E. 38th St.

Dried Goods Pantry Locations:

29 & MLK

27 & Harding

10th and Denny

The Lakes at Crossbridge Apartments at 38th and Franklin

Downtown Under the Bridge by The Slippery Noodle

Norma P. Rex