Clayton County Foundation for the Future grants meet basic needs of families during pandemic

The Clayton County Food Shelf, which typically provided meals to 84 families per month pre-pandemic, is currently averaging 174 families a month.  

“I’m delivering before work, after work, at noon and on the weekends, plus there’s still people that come to the door,” said Director Utoni Ruff. “It’s a lot of families with children who are now home eating all day, every day. It is families that for one reason or another are unemployed.”

The Clayton County Foundation for the Future is connecting generous community members with nonprofits working on the front lines of the pandemic to make an impact for local families. River City Paving, located in Dubuque and serving Northeast Iowa, made a generous gift of $2,500 to the Foundation for addressing COVID-19 critical needs. 

“Our advisory board decided to use the gift from River City Paving to make grants to the Shepherd of the Hills Crisis Fund, which assists with emergency housing, rent, and utilities, and to the Clayton County Food Shelf as they feed hungry families,” said Emily Sadewasser, foundation coordinator. “Supporting nonprofits is crucial to the well-being of people in our communities, especially during this time.”  

Ruff used the grant dollars to help fill gaps due to lost food donations from churches and other groups that donate regularly, but aren’t meeting or collecting food because of the pandemic. She notes a particular need for healthy, kid-friendly foods like unsweetened cereal, fresh or canned produce with easy-open tops, and individually wrapped string cheese. Families also need donations of household items like toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo and toothpaste. 

The grant to Shepherd of the Hills Crisis Fund covered expenses for all of June and the first half of July. The Crisis Fund provides money to help families who are referred to Shepherd of the Hills by other agencies pay rent, utilities and fuel for their cars, which is especially critical for families who are homeless. “I know of at least three families in Clayton County who we serve here regularly that are living in their cars,” said Director Heather Crogan. 

“We’ll be forever grateful. We couldn’t do what we do without local generosity, because we operate completely on donations,” said Crogan. “No amount of money donated is ever too small, because it’ll always contribute to helping somebody in need.”

To learn more about how you can help, contact Emily Sadewasser at or (563) 880-6044.