The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

December 18, 2012

Shelves begin to fill at the Food Bank of Southern Iowa

Helpful neighbors seemed to understand math of the situation

OTTUMWA — When they heard their neighbors were hungry, Wapello County residents started to respond.

“The day after the story [on our empty shelves] ran ... someone was waiting outside with a check when I came in in the morning,” said Neil Abbott, executive director of the Food Bank of Southern Iowa.

Residents struggling financially can normally get some emergency groceries at local food pantries. Those pantries get the bulk of their food from that central food bank in Ottumwa. That’s how the Food Bank of Southern Iowa program helps get food to senior citizens, disabled residents and the homeless in southeast Iowa.

The food bank hadn’t needed to ask for much money in the past. Corporate sponsors and government commodities (the “cheese” program) were able to fill much of the food bank supply requirements. Those programs have died off.

But when the cereal companies stopped donating, others stepped up to the plate, including local businesses and schools over the past few weeks. Individuals, too, have donated over the past several weeks, some writing checks for $1,000, others bringing in $100 in cash.

“People have been catching on to what [money] can do,” said Abbott.. “They get more bang for their buck — their money goes further.”

“Last month, the shelves were less than half full,” he said.

He estimates in November, the warehouse held 40-45 percent of what the area’s hungry needed. As of Monday, the warehouse was approaching 75 percent capacity.

Abbott originally admitted he was uncomfortable asking for money, but when he explained the situation publicly, people got it, he said.

When charitable residents stop at the food bank to make a $5 donation, they are, in a way, buying 70 pounds of food for the needy.

He said at the time that if people knew, they would be stunned at how much food gets donated when they give a few dollars to the food bank.

For 79 cents, a caring shopper can get a can of green beans for the food bank. Or a shopper can choose to give that money to the food bank instead. For 79 cents, Abbott can order just over five pounds of food.

After the Courier ran his story last month, he said, tons of food and more than $10,000 has been donated to the food bank.  That’s not counting the $100,000 gift made by the Legacy Foundation, which will be spent to buy rare bulk items like milk, then sold to food pantries at the food bank’s cost.

“Our goal isn’t making more money, our job is feeding hungry people,” he said.

Thanks to the people of southeast Iowa, Abbott said, they’ve been able to start getting back to that job in a big way.

For more information, contact the organization at foodbankofsoutherniowa.org or call 641-682-3403.

1
Text Only
Ottumwa
  • Urbandale comes back to beat Ottumwa Midwest BOONE — Ottumwa Midwest led by seven runs in the fourth inning, but Urbandale National put together a furious comeback to steal the victory, 12-11, on Friday at the 9-10 Year Old Little League State Baseball Tournament. The top of the first saw Ottum

    July 25, 2014

  • Parks Dept. has long list of projects

    OTTUMWA — The Parks and Recreation Department has approved a list of capital improvements for the next two years that includes the installation of handicapped-accessible swings and new park bathrooms.

    July 9, 2014

  • 0710 Farmers Market Color Photo 1 -L -M Fresh food improves community

    OTTUMWA — Every summer across the Midwest, food stands pop up on gravel roads, and farmers markets are filled with a variety of home-grown products. Finding a fresh selection of healthy greens and juicy fruits isn't as hard as you might think. Accord

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0703 OTT Heart boy photo A Heartfelt Miracle OTTUMWA — It’s funny how wishes can change so completely in just a few weeks. But laughter wasn’t the reaction of Jeff and Mary Penrod.The Ottumwa couple’s son, Brandon, was 18 years old when, in February, Mary took him to the Pella clinic to get loo

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0703 OTT River Hills parking lot color photo -L -T River Hills expansion progresses

    OTTUMWA — Expanding River Hills Community Health Center downtown continues to be a priority with the Ottumwa City Council. Earlier this week, the council authorized city staff to survey the property, prepare a draft developers agreement as well as pr

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Street repair program begins OTTUMWA — If you think roadwork projects in the city of Ottumwa are just about complete, think again. This week, the Ottumwa City Council awarded its preventative maintenance contract for sealing cracks in asphalt and concrete pavement roads througho

    July 2, 2014

  • A new look OTTUMWA — The 300 block of East Main Street in Ottumwa will be getting a facelift. During a public hearing earlier this week, the Ottumwa City Council gave its OK to the plans and specifications to renovate 15 buildings’ storefronts in downtown Ottum

    July 2, 2014

  • City won't tolerate bad behavior

    OTTUMWA — A newly designed policy to establish standards of behavior was presented to Ottumwa City Council on Tuesday night.The new policy’s introduction on Tuesday, demands city staff and elected officials exhibit professional behavior when they int

    July 1, 2014

  • 0702 OTT library grant color photo -T -L -M Ottumwa Public Library updates genealogy room

    OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Public Library is the recipient of a Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund Grant from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation. The Friends of the Ottumwa Public Library group gave $5,520 to put toward a new microfilm reader. The

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0625 OTT Riverfront Renaissance color photo -L -M Riverfront Renaissance begins mapping out ideas

    OTTUMWA — It was serious work to play with stickers and maps Tuesday evening. Concentration was on more than 70 faces as colored dots found their way up and down several maps of the river flowing through downtown Ottumwa. The Ottumwa Regional Legacy

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National