Bringing food to the people

STANHOPE – Stanhope will be the first community to see a new mobile food pantry program from the Food Bank of Iowa.

On Saturday, the Food Bank of Iowa will send a truck filled with food items from Des Moines to the Stanhope Community Center. The pantry will be open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Carey Miller, executive director at the Food Bank of Iowa, said the organization hopes to serve 100 families in the community.

“What makes me so excited for this program is that we know there is very limited access to pantries or other food outlets in rural areas of Iowa,” Miller said. “Grocery stores may be quite a distance away, and there may not be another group to provide assistance.”

The mobile food pantry program began after the Food Bank of Iowa received a $30,000 grant from Archer Daniels Midland. The program looks to identify needs in rural communities in Iowa, and the Food Bank of Iowa is working with community partners to help make that happen.

The Rev. Suzie Moore, of Stanhope Parish, is one member of a leadership group that is composed of Stanhope community members to help organize the pantry. She said that several community leaders, including herself, had discussed the need for a food pantry in December 2012. In January, the Food Bank of Iowa contacted them about taking part in the mobile food pantry program.

“This was kind of a God moment that we had,” Moore said. “It was a sign that we were supposed to do it.”

Moore and the leadership group won’t be the only community members helping out at the pantry. She said local 4-H groups, and other youths and adults in Stanhope have volunteered to help with the pantry on Saturday. The next food pantry will be held on June 15. Ultimately, Moore said their goal is to have a permanent food pantry set up in Stanhope by the end of this year.

In the meantime, the Food Bank of Iowa will continue to roll out its mobile food pantry to rural areas in need this year. Miller said the Food Bank of Iowa serves 42 counties in Iowa. The mobile food pantries will help them cover areas in need that they have not been able to serve in the past. Stanhope in one of four pilot locations for the program, and other rural communities will see the program expanded to their areas in the future.