Being the manager of a cafe that is now closed, Sophia Hopkins, general manager for Riverside Cafe, said that she “likes to play it safe.”
Sophia was in line with several cars waiting to receive food at the Second Harvest food tailgate held at 8:00 a.m, to 10 a.m. in the Muncie Mall parking lot.
Hopkins said the cafe hasn’t been able to work due to the restaurant closures over COVID-19 concerns in the state of Indiana, and that the restaurant hasn’t been able to continue their carryout services because they were a new restaurant at the time.
She wasn’t only receiving food for herself, she said, with two kids at home, “it's not just me that I'm thinking about, right. So I just wanted to come here and kind of receive the help.”
Helping out at the event was John Coutinho, deputy director of emergency management in Delaware County.
Coutinho said Second Harvest is looking to increase their food distribution points, hoping to do a few a week instead of their bi-monthly food drives. Food given out at these drives include chicken, vegetables, fruits and other essential foods.
“There's some people that don't have the means or the monetary means to get enough food plus all the food coming off the shelf so quick. It leaves little for anybody else,” he said. “These are good chances or opportunities for the community to come in and have some food for themselves or their families.”
Coutinho said there are “a lot of moving parts” to events like these, with volunteers coming from the Delaware County website and “it takes coordination of everybody, city and county alike.”
The only risks in having food tailgates like these is the amount of traffic that comes through during the event, he said. There is also concern to make sure that the volunteers and community members at these events are safe.
While he didn’t know an exact amount of how many vehicles they were coming through, Coutinho said that during the food tailgate at Delta High School on March 21 there were an estimated 350 cars, which he said “ It looks like we have well over that today.”
“I couldn’t even take a rough estimate because there's so many cars but [Second Harvest] says that they have enough food on their trucks to service about 600 vehicles. So it kind of gives you an idea,” he said
Also helping out at the event was Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour, who said that Second Harvest was able to have larger food tailgates thanks to the help of the community.
“I think because the citizens of America, the state of Indiana and Delaware County, they're just very giving, and in emergencies, we come together as communities,” Ridenour said. “And we're seeing that, you're seeing people here today who are young, maybe middle school age and above. You're seeing people who are with white hair, who are older, you're seeing a lot of people.”
Besides volunteering to participate in the food tailgates, Ridenour said there are other opportunities to help out and receive help, such as Muncie Community Schools doing giveaways once a week, which is now “on a regular basis.”
Another way community members can help is to give blood, which he said is needed “desperately.”
Hopkins said she was grateful for the volunteers work and that when she returns home she may investigate ways to help give back to her community.