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For a 2023 workshop to build on its strengths and identify opportunities, Boulevard Place Food Pantry board members used a fitting space. We held a strategy session in our client waiting area, reflecting an ideal that shoppers are at the heart of our mission. We didn’t step in their shoes but sat in their seats.

During the September meeting, Pantry board members, guided by our treasurer Terry White as facilitator, handwrote ideas onto long sheets of paper, then coalesced around themes in each area.

We identified factors within the four SWOT areas: internal to the Pantry (Strengths and Weaknesses) and external to the pantry (Opportunities and Threats).

We thought our audience would enjoy a few of the insights gleaned from this process.


  • The Pantry is a valued member of the community with good relationships with close neighbors.
  • The Pantry and grounds are beautiful and fit within the community, making clients feel comfortable and welcome.
  • The Pantry has an authentic culture, both physically and online; our news coverage is strong and positive.
  • Our support base is strong, providing time, talent, and treasure.


  • Growing stronger relationships with our Parish support network and replicating strong programs from them would help the clients.
  • A solid financial position allows us to expand our food offerings through expanding sources beyond Gleaners and bag donations.
  • Nutrition services are very helpful and more services like those would be useful.
  • The Pantry has multiple groups who care about the mission.

Renewing our purpose

Nothing new here. The mission of the Pantry remains to “provide emergency food assistance to people in need in our community.” Volunteers strive to grow spiritually as we offer service to our neighbors. We specifically focus on those in need who live within the boundaries of five conferences of the North District of the Indianapolis Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. These conferences are Christ the King; Immaculate Heart of Mary; St. Joan of Arc; St. Luke the Apostle; and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Goals for the next 1-2 years

  • Build stronger neighborhood relationships with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Butler University, organizations such as the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association, health providers, and other neighbors to help with safety, volunteerism, and community awareness.
  • Deepen the role of a Parish coordinator role to work with the five Parishes to grow support among volunteers, food offerings, and continue financial help. Changing Lives Forever and the Bag Program are two areas where some Parishes might choose to grow.
  • Student volunteer programs exist in some Parishes and could grow to others, supporting service hours programs and increasing awareness among young people about Pantry actions and volunteerism.
  • Continue growing involvement with the Council to provide the Pantry with administrative support and other help outside the facility’s scope.
  • Develop and expand Pantry participation in neighborhood events to increase awareness of the Pantry and its positive community impact.
  • Expanding food sources beyond Gleaners and bag collections will provide more variety in offerings and ensure food moves through the Pantry quickly.

“The intent of this process was to seek and develop clarity about steps to take over the next few years to provide the most optimal experience,” said Matt Hayes, Pantry director. “Our goals aren’t unlike a business where we examine ourselves to look for efficiency. The more sustainable our mission, the healthier our bottom line and brighter our future.”

Our Pantry started 42 years ago in a church basement and has stepped up over the decades to become the fifth-largest food Pantry in Marion County.

A love letter for February

This picture of Phyllis (at right, our Pantry Board chair) and TJ (operations manager) reading a letter we received captures a very rewarding moment in the life of the pantry. A while ago we helped a client in the manner we try to help all clients – in the words of the letter writer, with “smiles, and respect.” Her heartfelt letter not only praised “TJ, Ms. Phyllis, and all the volunteers,” but it also included a generous contribution. She offered “Blessings to this ministry, and all they do for God’s people.” We want to share these blessings with our clients, volunteers, and supporters: “God’s people.”

A giver of garden goodness

For the calendar 2023, the Rivi Gardens contributed 642.3 lbs. of fresh produce to the Pantry. In addition, Club members donated 223.2 pounds of canned goods during the Thanksgiving food drive. It’s wonderful to have such neighborhood partners as the Rivi Master Gardeners and Rivi Club members in addressing those in need of emergency food assistance—more than 16,000 households came to the Pantry in the past year.

Tiger terrific

A roar of appreciation to the middle school students of St. Thomas Aquinas (including the sixth graders pictured in the school hallway and parking lot on January 31) for collecting 399.4 pounds over the past two weeks. Students focused on the most pressing food items in demand by clients and gave us some of the variety that we always appreciate.

School food drives take a lot of planning but are always worth the hustle. Middle School teacher Lori Herrera helped to organize the drive with the most pertinent donations. It’s so exciting to see young people take an interest in the welfare of their fellow citizens.

A conversation about conservation

Thank you to Solar United Neighbors (SUN) for visiting the Pantry on January 27. It was a great opportunity to share thoughts with another organization committed to a better environment. Pantry Board Member and Energy Coordinator Andy Pike walked the group through the building and explained our mission. Interestingly, they took an interest in us while planning a luncheon outing at our next-door neighbor, Hoagies ‘n Hops. They saw our rooftop solar panels (which we wrote about in June 2022, “Solar So Far”) and wondered why. We explained about the Catholic teaching that inspires conversation and that turned into a conversation and what we do, how we serve, and why investing in our utilities for the long term is how we stay viable.

Service reminder

Dear supporters of Boulevard Place Food Pantry. We try to keep you up to date on how we’re doing.

In the 2023 fiscal year (October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023) we reached a service milestone. In the 2023 calendar year (January to December) we served 15,395 households (910 fewer than in 2022), and our monthly average of households served was 1,283 (down 76 from 2022). The decrease was anticipated. The demand has been so great that we decided to limit our boundaries to five zip codes: 46260, 46240, 46220, 46205, and 46208.