GMHC Family Resource Center food pantry

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Students of St. Mary Immaculate Conception School, Guttenberg, participated in a cereal drive. Eighty students donated 658 pounds of cereal to the Family Resource Center's food pantry. The school's fifth and sixth grade classes were the winners of a friendly competition among students to see who could donate the most cereal. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker 

The Guttenberg Municipal Hospital and Clinics (GMHC) Family Resource Center, located at 514 South River Park Drive in Guttenberg, recently added a food pantry to the long list of services they provide for our community. 

Kari Harbaugh, Family Resource Center Coordinator, told The Press, "We have had a mini-food pantry for a few years. We carried a limited supply of non-perishable items for emergency situations." She added, "The SIM (State Innovation Models) Grant questionnaire indicated our community had a high percentage of individuals living with food insecurity." 

The survey enabled the Family Resource Center to secure funding to open up a food pantry in Guttenberg. 

Harbaugh noted, "Because of our unique off-campus location, the Family Resource Center was able to open up a food pantry within the Resource Center. We have the space and opportunity to serve the needs of our community." 

"We received donations from the private sector and were able to purchase two freezers. The refrigerator in the break room has now transitioned into the food pantry refrigerator. We have reorganized some of our storage areas and now have plenty of room for our food pantry," she said. 

Meeting community needs

The Family Resource Center food pantry has served, as of Oct. 14, over 60 families, utilizing 2,340 pounds of food to 204 area residents.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank, located in Waterloo, supplies the grocery items for the food pantry. The same organization delivers food to the St. John's Church mobile food pantry in Guttenberg on the third Saturday of each month, and the second Saturday during the months of November and December. The Resource Center's food pantry is a safety net during the month for families who either missed the mobile food pantry, or need additional food to feed their families. 

Harbaugh commented, "The organizers of the food bank in Waterloo were so happy to hear from us! They said Clayton County had been on their radar for a long time."

How it works

There are no requirements or economic guideline that have to be met to utilize the food pantry. 

Harbaugh described the process, saying, "The money from our crisis fund pays for the food from the Northeast Iowa Food Bank to be delivered to the resource center once a month." 

The food truck also delivers groceries once a week to Manchester. Unlimited Services, as a community partnership, drives to Manchester weekly to pick up perishable items in smaller portions to eliminate food waste. 

"We do not have the traffic or space to house a month's worth of grapes or milk, but we do have the need for smaller portions," she commented.

"Our clients are given a list of available groceries. They can circle the food items on the list that they need and will eat. For example, an elderly person, who is diabetic, requires a diet high in protein. Meat is expensive, and insurance does not cover that cost. We can provide that individual with their dietary requirements at no cost. This is quite helpful to those living on a fixed income," she remarked.

"Not all items are available every week, but for the most part we are able to provide healthy, safe food to our clients on a reliable, dependable basis," she said. 

Volunteer opportunities

Community members looking for an opportunity to volunteer may contact Harbaugh. "We are looking for individuals who would like to assists with unpacking and sorting groceries," she encouraged. 

Harbaugh expressed the need to have the food pantry open one night during the week. "The food pantry is only available to community members during the day when the resource center is open. It would be nice to have the food pantry open from 5 -7 p.m. one night a week to accommodate people who work. Once that commitment has been made it needs to be fulfilled. We can't advertise and not have it open. People depend on us to feed their families," she stressed.

Food pantry hours

The food pantry is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. - noon. 

For additional information or volunteer opportunities call the Family Resource Center at (563) 252-3215.

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