FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – An organization that already provides food to those in need is stepping up its efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Wellspring Interfaith Social Services at 1316 Broadway Avenue in Fort Wayne, is rolling its WOW mobile food bank in various neighborhoods to help feed a growing number of people in need.

“WOW stands for Wellspring on Wheels,” said Wellspring Executive Director, Melissa Rinehart. “We actually have four dedicated sites, what we call WOW sites that we’re committed to through the end of the year. We’re at Autumn Woods Apartments, Neighborhood Health clinic, Indiana Tech and Pontiac Library branch, all of these areas are food desserts.”

More areas across the city now need food assistance because of job losses resulting from COVID-19. So Wellspring is responding to requests on its Facebook page and other social media sites to establish temporary food pickups like one that was set up in the parking lot at Bishop Dwenger High School. “This site is a pop-up that we did in direct response to COVID 19 because the demand is there. A staff member has a contact at Bishop Dwenger and it was fairly easy to organize. Fifty-five cars came through that day and 270 people were served,” said Rinehart.

“We have since had a pop-up at Carroll High School and had record numbers of 72 cars and 342 individuals who were given food. We will be at the Adams Township Trustee parking lot in New Haven, Tuesday April 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. So, we’re really trying to reach different areas with these pop-ups.”

Those in charge of packing up and giving out food follow safety guidelines to protect themselves and those they serve.

“We have a lot of cleaning, a lot of sanitizing back at the office but also back on site. Everyone needs to wear gloves. We’re keeping our distance and if anyone’s health is compromised in anyway they don’t come into work.”

Most of the food they distribute comes from the Community Harvest Food bank and Associated Churches. Grants and private donations also help purchase products. Family size determines the distribution amount. Anyone can pull up and get a bag.

“We’re going to go where the need is. I’m exploring other areas of the city. There’s no area that’s exempt from COVID-19 when it comes to food insecurity.”

By providing food Wellspring takes some of that insecurity away, working together with families to help them keep the basics on the table.

“Do what you can with what you have and where you’re at. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do at Wellspring,” said Rinehart.

Currently all dedicated and pop-up WOW sites are drive-thru due to COVID-19. The Wellspring Food Bank at 1316 Broadway is curbside only service for the same reason. The curbside food bank is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m., Tuesday 4:00-6:00 p.m., and
Thursday: 2:00-4:00 p.m. You can get more information on the Wellspring website by clicking here.