Foundation grant helps reduce food insecurity
When Family Resource Coordinator Kari Harbaugh launched a “mini” food pantry in the fall of 2019, she couldn’t have known how important that resource would become.
“In July 2020, we started collecting data,” says Harbaugh. “We distributed a social determinant survey through the hospital and found that 21% of the general population was food insecure – so we knew we needed to expand.” Today, the pantry serves 11,000 pounds of food to 250 families each month in Clayton County and surrounding areas.
That number that has risen by 75 families and 2,000 pounds since January, when the nonprofit applied for a grant through the Clayton County Foundation for the Future.
“We were happy to be able to provide support for this program and for families in our area,” says Foundation Coordinator Emily Sadewasser. Funding for the award came from the LeRoy and Colleen Darby Family Donor-Advised Fund, stewarded by the Foundation.
Once again, the timing was right: As the grant was received, a baby formula shortage was causing panic across the country, and grant dollars helped bring a supply of various formula options to the food pantry. “Through the shortage, we saw a lot of need,” says Tracy Kregel, community care coordinator at the Resource Center. “Formula is expensive, and the price went up during the shortage.”
The price and availability of food also has shifted in recent months. An end to pandemic funding support and shortages in donations to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, along with more families experiencing food insecurity, means the pantry’s monthly cost of food has risen to an average $2,000 today compared with just $300 last summer.
But Harbaugh isn’t worried. “We have really great support around the county,” she says. “We are able to respond to the needs that arise.” Individuals who’ve witnessed the good work the Resource Center is doing have contributed time, talent and treasure to the effort. According to Kregel, volunteers clock 80 hours a month managing the food pantry, shopping and bi-weekly food deliveries in Edgewood.
Partnerships with other agencies also are a big part of that support. The Resource Center is partnering with a local school to use freezer space to stockpile items, especially food for the holidays that’s on sale now. Area food growers, grocers and convenience stores bring surplus items to the food pantry, and a monthly mobile food pantry donates any leftovers from its nearest stop.
The Resource Center’s partnership with Guttenberg Municipal Hospitals and Clinics is crucial to the organization’s work. The hospital covers overhead and salaries for the two staff members who run the nonprofit, which includes the food pantry and many other services. That way, 100% of donations go toward helping families.
“The Resource Center’s creative partnerships, flexibility and responsiveness to emerging needs are a wonderful example of how nonprofits in Clayton County – including the Foundation – can work together to address challenges and improve quality of life,” says Sadewasser. To learn more about how you can establish a fund or make a gift that impacts your community, call 563-880-6044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a donation to the food pantry, contact Kari Harbaugh at 563-252-3215. Current needs include canned vegetables, soup, granola bars, cereal, tuna and eggs.