Hashtag LunchBag Indy Led by NC Grad To Feed and Connect
Greg Stowers has lived in Washington Township his entire life, inspired by his family, and learning from an early age the importance of giving back as he attended Crooked Creek, Northview and North Central (NC). The 2005 NC Grad went on to Indiana State, but never forgot his roots on the Northside. After getting his degree in political science, he returned to work in Indianapolis and activated his passion for helping in a unique way. In 2015, he instigated the “pop up philanthropy” concept of Hashtag LunchBag Indy to address food insecurity. “We are a grassroots effort aimed at providing the less fortunate with food throughout various areas of our city. Since our first event in August of 2015, we’ve provided more than 30,000 meals around Indianapolis,” Stowers says. He emphasizes the not-for-profit is based on relationships, collaboration, and awareness as they tackle the issue of hunger one packed lunch at a time.
Stowers and fellow NC grad Loren Ray lead this effort in addition to their full-time jobs, building and reinforcing their base of volunteers. “A cool part of growing up in Indy and staying in Indy is that the town gets very small,” Stowers points out. Personal relationships with high school friends bring together people who step up to help with time and resources to pack and deliver meals. “It is a testament to Washington Township that the many friends I have made – even a buddy from third grade– serve as a base of relationships that expand in the community,” Stowers says. The web of volunteers continues to grow, in fact the group’s February engagement prepared 250 meals and included Washington Township Schools volunteers.
The current pandemic crisis reinforces the need to work together, a skill Stowers points out he has been using since his days of being student body president at North Central. Hashtag LunchBag Indy works to connect meal donors with volunteers to prep food “lunch bags” and deliver via organizations who have boots on the ground to reach those in need with nourishment as well as relationship. “We have a great relationship with Wheeler Mission which is open during this Covid crisis, and are continuing to support their efforts,” Stowers says. The group has also reached out to help veterans.
During more normal times, the group also focuses on helping its more than 300 volunteers become more engaged with the challenges being faced by those who have fallen on hard times. The need for engagement is paramount. “We educate volunteers on food insecurity as well the importance of connecting, they realize the gift of conversation when someone who is homeless hasn’t talked to anybody in two weeks,” Stowers says.
These unprecedented times call for creative thinking, and Hashtag LunchBag Indy is looking to “go beyond the (lunch) bag” to help in times of great need coupled with social distancing. We are “Panther Proud” of this great community organization led by NC grads! To learn more about Hashtag LunchBag Indy and get involved, follow along and reach out via their social media channels:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hashtaglunchbagindy/ Twitter: @Hashtagindy