Strack & Van Til is feeding the hungry across Northwest Indiana this holiday season.
The Highland-based supermarket chain, the largest based in the Calumet Region with 20 stores, donated 2,000 Christmas dinners to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana after giving it 1,500 dinners for Thanksgiving.
Strack & Van Til Chief Operating Officer Dave Wilkinson said the supermarket chain always donates to feed the needy since it is in the food business, but that help was especially and direly needed this year at a time when long lines have stretched down the road at food panties in Merrillville and Portage.
"With the pandemic there's a lot of food insufficiency," he said. "People are out of work. We want to help feed the hungry in the areas we serve."
Each dinner Strack & Van Til donated includes a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and bread. They will be distributed at Food Bank's mobile markets and larger pantries.
Strack & Van Til also is donating $20,000 worth of $25 gift cards to the Salvation Army in Lake and Porter counties.
"We have the Salvation Army red kettles outside all of our stores," Wilkinson said. "But donations have been dropping year after year. People don't carry cash or coins as much any more and they've lost some retailers. They need help getting volunteers. If they have to pay people that takes money away from charity and getting food to the pantries."
The supermarket chain also is running a Checkout Challenge for the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana by encouraging customers to round up to donate spare change with each purchase. It's hoping to raise $200,000, up from $190,000 last year.
"We're running around the same pace," he said. "Thanks to the generosity of our customers we're able to help feed the people who are hungry."
Timeline: A look at key date in Strack & Van Til's history