Sharing Labors of Love from the Pantry – UFTE Volunteers 

Up From the Earth applauds our community’s efforts on many levels to increase local food security.  This trilogy of personal experiences and perspectives covers the growers (last issue), with this issue focusing on Pantry Volunteering as another level. 

Blessed to be a Blessing by Janet Gross

The Holy Family Food Pantry at First Lutheran Church in Sioux City has been working to provide food to guests for years. We distribute on Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The pantry relies on monetary donations, Up from the Earth, other grower food donations, and a wonderful volunteer group. I became involved with the pantry in the fall of 2021 when I, newly retired from teaching, was able to volunteer during the weekdays. I was impressed by the pantry operation and asked our leader many questions. He answered the questions and mentored me into taking on a leadership role. Through ordering of products, moving items from the Foodbank of Siouxland to church, packing frozen items bags & dry goods bags, and overseeing weekly distribution to guests has been a learning process. I love being a part of the volunteer team in this ministry.

Guests that receive fresh produce, frozen meat/protein, and dry goods are grateful for the biweekly visit. Our team members share a smile while guests check in, make food selections, or volunteers lend a hand in taking items to vehicles. Guests share thanks, a quick joke, or a short snippet of their life when we make our personal connections. We make a difference in easing food insecurity in our community because we are part of the Siouxland network. We are all blessed to be a blessing!

Serving our Pantry Guests in Many Ways by Jeannette Domaye

“Is this a cucumber or a zucchini?” “How do you cook squash?” As the person who oversees the fresh produce at the St. Thomas Episcopal food pantry, I love to answer questions like these. I encourage people to try a new food for variety and better nutrition.

Many people don’t have access to quality produce, either because of living in a food desert or the rising prices of fresh fruits and vegetables. I try to bring in about 400 pounds of produce each week, in addition to about 2000 pounds of other food. Every pantry offers canned goods, but with the assistance of the Food Bank and local farmers and gardeners, we can offer fresh produce all year long.

The pantry has been a ministry of St. Thomas for 20 years. Located in the lower level of the church building at 12th and Douglas, we’re convenient for our neighbors to walk to the pantry. We serve many young families, people with health issues, grandparents, and other senior citizens.

Our pantry lets people shop for what they like and need. Depending on what is available, they can choose their own cereal, produce, meat, and extras such as coffee and sugar. We try to offer a small number of toiletry items, essentials that can’t be purchased with food assistance benefits. Sometimes we ask members and friends of the church to donate items that are not currently available from the Food Bank.

We are open every Monday morning from 10 a.m. to noon.

A Fresh Produce Collection Site Story by Mike and Carole Doll

We have always enjoyed working in our garden and being outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  It is very rewarding to see things grow and getting to enjoy the fresh food is like adding the cherry on top!  Growing such a large garden gives us an opportunity to share with our family and friends as well as with those that are in need.  One thing that we discovered was to “add an extra row” to share with others.  We learned that the extra produce really adds up fast when we think of it this way. 

One of the things we enjoy most is knowing that it makes an impact for others in the Siouxland community.  When our daughter started working at the Boys and Girls Home, we sent some of our “extras” to them.  It was great to know that kids there were trying things they had never tried before, and really enjoying them too!  We were surprised to learn that they were even more willing to try it if she was able to tell them “It came from my parents’ garden”. 

We are happy to be a part of Up from The Earth and you can find us gathering fresh produce from others in the community too.  We will be in front of Blessed Sacrament Church, 3012 Jackson St, Sioux City from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Thursday evenings starting July 7th.  The fresh produce that is collected there will be donated to the Soup Kitchen, Gospel Mission, and The Boys and Girls Home.

These articles share the experiences and perspectives of the many from our community who volunteer their time and efforts to ensure collection of fresh produce and staff the food pantries serving our community to help increase food security in the Siouxland area.  In the fall issue we focus on the pantry guests and how our pantry system impacts their lives.

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