OTTUMWA — The Food Bank of Iowa will host a drive-thru food distribution from 9 a.m. to noon behind the Quincy Place Mall on Friday, May 29.

The food bank will provide boxes of non-perishable foods and meats. Sandra McReynolds, operations coordinator, said no ID, proof of residency or income is required.

Volunteers will wear masks and gloves and pursue social distancing.

“The social distancing can be a challenge, but we want to be as cautious as possible,” McReynolds said. “At the beginning it was difficult to convey to others to distance themselves, but I’m confident it will be a really smooth process. We’ll also take everyone’s temperatures and dispose of gloves after each interaction with foods.”

McReynolds asked volunteers who are immune compromised or sick to not volunteer. She is confident volunteers will follow the precautions and is excited to provide for the community.

“Anyone can come,” McReynolds said. “We’re pretty excited to provide food as frozen and non-perishable foods are increasing in expenses. We’re hoping they don’t feel like it’s a big process. It’s open to anyone who needs help — just show up and we give food.”

Volunteers will limit the foods to one box per household in order to meet the goal of providing for every resident.

Since the pandemic began, McReynolds has noticed an increase in the need for food. McReynolds said partners in Wapello County have helped to provide for needs.

“It really was great for them to step up,” she said, referring to the 115-120 partnerships the food bank has in the county. “Last year we provided 35,000 pounds of food, and this year we provided 51,000 pounds. That’s a 43 percent increase from last year, and there’s a difference because of COVID-19.”

McReynolds was thrilled by the support but not surprised by the drastic increase.

“I wasn’t terribly surprised seeing there are whole communities — citizens to kids in need,” she said. “With the increased need we saw that it was putting a strain so we had to be creative and think outside the box.”

McReynolds and staff at the food bank are thinking of ways to continue to “fight food insecurity.” Next Friday’s food distribution, McReynolds said, is one way to do that.

“We’ve seen a decent increase in need and definitely want to do what we can to bridge those gaps,” she said. “This is a tough situation, and we have to come up with more ways to provide food.

“We’ve definitely seen the need go up and thrilled we have exciting partners to put on the distribution,” McReynolds added. “This [food distribution] is another way to increase what we provide.”

McReynolds is also looking for volunteers to help in future food distributions. Interested volunteers can contact her at 641-682-3403 or at SMcReynolds@foodbankiowa.org.

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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