Pamela Altmeyer Alvey
When she was about 7 years old, Pamela Altmeyer Alvey walked door-to-door pulling a little red wagon carrying freshly picked cabbage from her family’s garden. She ran into a neighbor whose face brightened at the sight of the young entrepreneur. “I asked if she’d like to buy some, but the neighbor replied that she didn’t have any money.” Tears welled in Alvey’s eyes as she shared this story, recalling the pain in the woman’s face. It was Alvey’s first encounter with food insecurity. “That was too young to learn such a lesson; and so I gave her the cabbage.”
From that day on, Alvey learned to look for a need and fill it, quickly realizing how difficult it was to fill those needs alone – like her work to end hunger among Hoosiers. In 1981, Alvey became the first full-time hire of the then-fledgling Gleaners Food Bank. As President and CEO for nearly thirty years, she helped grow the nonprofit into the state's largest food bank, distributing food and grocery products to hundreds of charitable programs in over two-dozen counties.
Though she hasn’t returned to Gleaners since her retirement in 2010, Alvey keeps a watchful and admiring eye on the good work being accomplished there today. The former CEO is excited to see some of the things she always dreamed of taking shape today – including an expanded pantry and addition of a health clinic. “I hope they know what a great job I think they are doing.”
Despite retiring with a remarkable legacy of distributing 30 million pounds of food to families in need each year through the Gleaners’ network, she gives much of the credit to loyal volunteers. “It isn’t me. It was never me. Volunteers will end up running the world,” she says. Her advice for someone looking to get involved and be a hero in our community? “Just start. Wherever you are, start. And don’t quit. You owe it. It is your rent for being on earth.” Alvey has certainly paid her rent, and then some.