Honoring Women: Sarah Thompson of Forward Indiana

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 12:47 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - March is Women’s History Month and ABC21 is highlighting women across 21Country who are overcoming obstacles, inspiring others, and writing their own piece of history.

The COVID-19 pandemic and wave of inflation have served as reminders to many residents that financial stability can change quickly. As food scarcity rose to the top of Northeast Indiana residents’ concerns during the pandemic, Sarah Thompson and her partner Carlos Marcano put their idea for community pantries into action. They reached out to a handful of downtown area business owners to host a pantry and Fancy & Staple was the first one to show confidence in their idea.

What is the community food pantry? A literal pantry that they got donated and placed it in a highly visible spot for residents to access all day, every day with no fees, no sign-ups, no staff, no name.

Aside from nonperishable, non-expired and ready-to-eat food items, the community pantries are a place where you can drop off and pick-up school supplies, crafts, toiletries, feminine hygiene, blankets and baby-care products.

Thompson told us, “When we were young, we were taught to share. Then, something happens in society and we kind of turn to this “Us versus Them”. You know individualistic. I really want to get away from that and come back to a true community where I really can lean on you when I need something and I really want you to be able to ask me for help.” She goes on to add, “These food pantries are a physical representation of that and they say more than I think a lot of us realize.”

Thompson shared that she is one of six siblings and there were times when they struggled to eat. She learned that it’s okay to ask for help and challenges other families to put their pride aside and take the help if they need it. She also challenges those who can help and give back to do so.

When asked about any advice to give to others on starting their way to give back, she said, “I didn’t have resources either. The very first pantry we put out which is here at ‘Fancy and Staple’, my boyfriend and I paid for it out of our own pocket. Beyond that, I just leaned on my community and asked people that I knew, “do you have extra money that you can help me buy this pantry for others so I would say ask for help”.

Thompson added, “There’s no shame in that at all. It’s always we should all be doing. I would also say when someone reaches out to you for help, do what you can to be there for them because it’s the right thing to do because you hope they’ll give back.”

Anyone is welcome to drop off or pick up food when it is convenient for them. Any business owner willing to host a pantry should contact Forward Indiana, and anyone able to contribute food is asked to drop off nonperishable, unopened, and unexpired items at the time and location of their choice.

To find a pantry go to @ForwardIndiana on Facebook and Instagram.

Forward Indiana
Forward Indiana(WPTA)

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