One Box at a Time

Feed Evansville counters pandemic food insecurity
Feed Evansville chair Lisa Vaughan and her group of volunteers distributed 500,000 boxes of food to local families in 2020.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of volunteers handed out about 7,000 USDA farm-to-family food boxes per week at Hartke Pool on Evansville’s East Side. Now known as Feed Evansville, the group was only hitting the tip of the food insecurity iceberg.

Feed Evansville chair Lisa Vaughan moved to Evansville from her native Cleveland, Ohio, in 2006. An avid volunteer, former hospital chaplain and children’s minister at Newburgh United Methodist Church, and Junior League member and former president, she started Feed Evansville alongside Evansville City Council President Alex Burton in March 2020.

“We’ve always been community driven,” she says. “I love volunteering and I love working with other leaders and community members and neighbors to make the place that I live effective and efficient and better for everybody.”

On March 18, 2021, the group was recognized at Leadership Everyone’s 26th annual Celebration of Leadership awards. Burton and Vaughan were also named the 2020 McGary Jones Visionary & Humanitarian Award recipients by Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.

“I’m extremely honored any time there’s been any recognition,” says Vaughan. “It’s nice to be appreciated. However, this work is important. It’s essential, it’s needed, and it’s really driven by the volunteerism of the community. So, these awards are really meant for everybody.”

Vaughan oversaw several other Feed Evansville food drives with 500,000 boxes given away in 2020, and neighborhood handouts continued through Sept. 15, 2021. Throughout the pandemic, the group also worked with the Mayor’s Office Reopening Task Force, establishing a Food Security Commission with members from Feed Evansville, local pantries, food distributors, restaurants, and more.

“Feed Evansville is a COVID-19 task force … it was very much for the crisis needs,” says Vaughan. “Feed Evansville is folding into the food commission, and we are looking at systematic changes and making suggestions and policy suggestions for all of the food sharing opportunities that are in our Evansville area.”

Donations still can be made to Feed Evansville online and volunteers can join via inquiries on its official Facebook page.

Photos provided by Lisa Vaughan.

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