When the weather turns cold, peoples minds often turn to those who are hungry and less fortunate. As plans for The Garage food hall progress, issues of food waste and community need have become top priorities. Megan Nagel, our Property Manager at Bottleworks, has identified an opportunity to share our success with the community and since spearheaded a partnership with Second Helpings. We spoke with her, as well as Katie Prine and Nora Spitznogle (of Indianapolis-based non-profit Second Helpings) about efforts to combat hunger in Indianapolis and the various ways we work to give back.
Nearly a third of Hoosiers are regularly at risk of going hungry, but aren’t eligible for federal food assistance.
Tell me about your mission at Second Helpings.
Katie Prine: Our values are rooted in trying to reduce food waste, fight hunger, and train people for jobs. Those are the things that are most important to us and we couldn’t do it without the help of our community partners and the 700+ volunteers who bring it all together.
What is it about the Second Helpings mission that appeals to Hendricks Property Group?
Megan Nagel: Hendricks has a very wide portfolio, but this is our first food hall—it’s really a new beast and we want to do it right. Realizing just how much food is truly wasted in the restaurant industry, we’ve decided to make a concerted effort to combat food waste with this project. That’s what lead us to Second Helpings. They’re rooted in community with a specific focus on Indy and reducing food waste. It’s a really natural partnership.
How does Second Helpings address community needs?
Nora Spitznogle: We have three programs: food rescue, job training, and hunger release. This year, we’ll rescue 2.4 million pounds of food. And we turn that into one million meals that we distribute throughout the community through other non profit agencies at no cost. We also send one million pounds of food into the food pantry system each year and we run a culinary job training program geared to underemployed and unemployed adults.
Katie Prine: We collect donated food from wholesalers, grocery stores, hotels, restaurants, caterers, and then transform that food into meals we deliver to our 91 partner agencies that receive them free of charge.
Are charitable partnerships critical to the Hendricks mission?
Megan Nagel: Whatever community we go into, we always want to find a way to make it better. Even if it’s not directly partnered with another organization, we welcome the opportunity to make positive change. Even with the properties we choose to develop—we like finding things that used to be incredible, beautiful pieces of the neighborhood that have fallen into disrepair.
The Coca Cola Bottling Plant is an amazing example of that. It used to be this place that had so many job opportunities, it was held as the pinnacle of what could be done with that type of structure, people would come tour it—it was a huge point of pride. And now it’s been vacant for so long and remained a sort of sore of that end of Mass Ave—though it’s still an incredibly beautiful place, it’s just abandoned. We wanted to return it to the community.
Similar to the food rescue efforts of Second Helpings.
Megan Nagel: Exactly! So, at the onset, we worked with the historical society, Indiana Landmarks, to provide tours—the proceeds of which directly benefited Indiana Landmarks. I think from the start we wanted to make it accessible and part of the community, and I think how you do that is working with what already exists. Partnering with Second Helpings is simply an extension of that effort.
The biggest goal that we have is to be a fixture of the community and I truly don’t feel you can be a fixture of any community without being a) knowledgeable of what the community struggles with and where they need help, and b) knowledgeable of and partnering with the organizations that exist in the community. So identifying a local partner like Second Helpings who feel that same drive—who are so rooted in community with a specific focus on Indy—is amazing. We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to share our success by contributing to their efforts to redistribute resources.
Check out the Second Helpings website if you’re interested in learning more about their organization, would like to get involved, or make a donation.