A Summary of Community Efforts to Increase Food Security

If you have regularly followed Up From The Earth’s articles in the last three issues of Siouxland Magazine, you will recall that each article was part of a trilogy highlighting the three elements that are essential to Up From The Earth’s core purpose.  

In the first article: 

Siouxland Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 3, page 44. The local gardener planted, grew, and shared their fresh vegetables and fruits with our food pantry guests.  Gardeners knew this year was exceptionally challenging, with the drought requiring continuous watering.  Also, high temperatures prevented or slowed the plants’ development, or even germination, with weeds and pest problems plentiful.

Maybe it was simply extra produce they shared, but most likely these gardeners purposely planted more.  They planted an extra row or two just for this purpose…to share.  A true labor of love and caring that resonated from their writing.  

In the second article: 

Siouxland Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 4, page 62. The dedicated pantry volunteers who give their time and energy to connect and deliver the food to the pantry guests.  If you have ever helped at a food pantry, you know it can be taxing and hard work bagging, boxing, loading, unloading, and carrying heavy items.  These volunteers shared that with all this hard work they found their efforts to be very rewarding and fulfilling and an important part in getting the food to those in need.

In the third article:

Siouxland Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 5, page 55. The pantry guests speak.  Each pantry guest has a story.  Some guests openly share their stories while others are quietly reserved.  Some stories are sad and heartbreaking; others more just “a matter of fact”.  Perhaps they were between jobs or had an unexpected bill that caused them to need a food pantry.  Some come alone, some with family members and children, and some are picking up food for a sick or homebound friend.  Through all these reasons you can feel their appreciation and gratitude, if not with a verbal thank you, with a sincere smile, a nod of the head, or a “bless you” as they walk out the door.  This tells you that WE as a community are making a personal and positive difference in their lives.  

How do we connect these great pantry guest services without mentioning the Food Bank of Siouxland?  Here is a brief history and some information about the Food Bank of Siouxland.  Our food bank is one of six in the state of Iowa and is part of the Food Bank of the Heartland centered in Omaha, Nebraska.  The Siouxland Food Bank serves eleven counties:  8 in Northwest Iowa and 3 in Northeast Nebraska.  

It started in 1991 when two groups of concerned citizens from the Labor Union and Briar Cliff College moved forward and opened with just three volunteers.  It remained volunteer-driven until the late 1990’s when three paid employees were added.  Today there are 14 paid employees and many, many volunteers.  The Food Bank of Siouxland serves 106 agencies (pantries, mobile pantries, etc.) in these eleven counties.  

Jake Wanderscheid, Executive Director, states that by having a larger staff it has allowed them to increase and offer better area coverage.  Their poundage now being delivered has gone from 30% of total poundage to 60%.  In the last three years, their food distribution has gone from 2.5 million to 3.5 million pounds.  Their skilled and dedicated staff continue to strive to provide quality food items for all their agencies.  Please note that every $1.00 donated to our food bank can provide five meals.  It’s an easy way to help.

By Randy Burnight, a retired dentist, Master Gardener, and planted the seed for UFTE.
By Jenny Jorgensen, a retired kindergarten teacher, Master Gardener, and involved with UFTE since the beginning.

Up From the Earth is proud to be part of this growth and serving those in need by providing fresh local garden produce directly to those in need through our food pantry system.  We thank ALL OF YOU who have contributed to this great community effort.  We look forward to more years serving our community.

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