November 26, 2021

Food pantry to expand, donations needed

As the need for help from the Creston Area Food Pantry has increased over the past year, plans have been made to enlarge the building where it is housed.

Since it was officially founded in 2016, the Creston Area Food Pantry has been supplying food to those who need it with the help of donors and volunteers, serving approximately 110 families a month.

With the need for safety precautions due to COVID-19, the food distribution changed to prepacked boxes of food for each family rather than allowing the families to “shop” from the food pantry for themselves.

Treasurer Jodi Rushing said the food pantry is “bursting at the seams” in its space at 417 Wyoming St. in Creston and so expansion is needed. The new 20-foot by 50-foot addition on the south side of the building will house two new energy efficient walk-in coolers and allow for a more efficient work space.

With its concrete drive and garage door, it will allow trucks of food, especially the up to 8,000 pound deliveries from the Food Bank of Iowa, to be unloaded directly into the storage area. A roller door connecting the new structure to the existing space will allow pallets of food to be moved by a jack rather than with volunteers hand carrying the items.

Currently there is not enough space to store perishables — that arrive every two weeks — to distribute every week.

“We can only order as much milk and eggs and perishable foods that we can fit in our refrigerators,” Rushing said.

The new coolers, which are being funded through grants, will allow the food pantry to hold a larger supply of perishable items

An area in the current building where clients can wait without being in the heat, cold, rain or snow will be expanded and able to be used once the threat of COVID-19 passes.

Work on the addition is set to begin in spring as soon as the ground is warm enough to pour the concrete and completed by mid-summer.

How to help

The Creston Area Food Pantry staff, made up of volunteers, is asking the community to contribute toward the $200,000 cost of the expansion. Financial donations can be mailed to PO Box 669, Creston, IA 50801.

Food donations are always accepted, but Rushing said the food pantry is able to buy food from the Food Bank of Iowa at a rate of 12 cents a pound, much cheaper than donors can buy food at their local grocery store, so financial gifts will go much farther.

Volunteers are needed when the food is delivered to the food pantry as well as during distribution hours. In addition, volunteers can pick up food donated by local grocery stores

How to get help

Food distribution hours are noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, with an additional period of noon to 2 p.m. Friday for those who need to use the Southern Iowa Trolley as transportation.

“Everyone is welcome to use the food pantry,” Rushing said. “We don’t turn anyone away. If there is any insecurity about your food or your meals, contact us and we want to help.”

Those who are unable to come and get the food themselves are able to assign a family member, neighbor or friend to get it for them.

Those needing more information about giving or receiving from the food pantry may call or text 641-344-0451 or send an email to kathy.cafp@gmail.com.

REGINA SMITH

Reporter, columnist, teacher, children's book author, book store owner - Regina Smith has a wide range of experience in writing and education. She combines those interests and experiences to cover city and county government and human interest stories as well as writing a biweekly column in her home town of Creston, Iowa.