Monthly Archives: February 2014
Sue Swartz, the pantry director at Christ United Methodist Church at 3801 7th St., East Moline, IL, has a huge heart for helping others. The food pantry is open Monday through Friday from 9a.m. to 12p.m. and serves approximately 300 individuals every month in the East Moline/Silvis area. The pantry prepackages the food with the help of their 2 volunteers each day (1 desk attendant and 1sack room attendant). The amount of food they give out is an emergency one week supply and the clients can come every 30 days. The food pantry has been in operation for 40 years.
Without the River Bend Foodbank, Sue said the pantry couldn’t run. “I just couldn’t imagine not having the River Bend Foodbank. They are a great group. They see a lot of me and they are always willing to help,” she stated. The Christ United Methodist food pantry receives food from the River Bend Foodbank every week, where they receive 95% of their supply.
The one thing that Sue would love to be able to do all of the time at the food pantry is to be a greeter. She loves interacting with the clients that come in and makes them feel comfortable and loved. She wants to help them, but she also wants them to be productive members of society. Sue pushes the clients to be their very best and especially loves their hugs! When Sue first took over as pantry director, her priority was that all clients were treated with dignity. Sue has changed the volunteer’s views and now they have a true heart for the people.
The church congregation is very supportive of the food pantry. The women of the church knit/crochet scarves and blankets for the clients when the weather turns cold. A couple celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary is asking for canned goods instead of gifts to be donated to the food pantry.
Sue says that the biggest challenge the food pantry faces is “having ample amount of food.” She would love to be able to give more and never run out of cereal! The Christ United Methodist Church food pantry is filled with loving individuals that make you feel at home the moment you step in the door, which makes for a wonderful experience.
By Jennifer Schroder
River Bend Foodbank AmeriCorps VISTA
2014 Legislative Session Update
To some, another year means just another legislative session. For us, another year means another opportunity to create policy to positively affect those that struggle with hunger.
Last year, we – along with food banks, food pantries and advocates from around the state – successfully secured $1 million for additional food purchases. This program has enjoyed success. As of January 28th, food banks have been able to purchase food amounting to an additional 922,031 additional meals. The food purchased with these funds has already been made available to 545 agencies in 66 Iowa counties. The expected impact of this program will be the purchase of enough food for an additional 4.5 million meals to be distributed in all 99 Iowa counties.
This year, food banks are advocating for new legislation:
• Sales Tax Exemption – exempting the eight Feeding America food banks from sales tax would free up approximately $80,000 – $100,000 for additional food purchases and programming. The benefits of this savings could be passed on directly to food pantries and food insecure Iowans.
• Income Tax Check-off – A successful push for this bill would place the food banks on the income tax forms allowing Iowans to direct a dollar or two to assist in the fight against hunger.
Currently, our two bills are still waiting to be introduced in committee. We have a shell bill with a collection of food security legislation originating in the House. The Co-sponsors of this bill are Rep. Dawn Pettengill, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, Rep. Art Staed, Rep. Dan Kelley, and Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt. IFBA has already requested hunger-relief advocates from targeted counties to call their representatives in support of this effort.
Senator Bill Dotzler has taken sponsorship of a sales-tax bill originating in the Senate. We are working closely with Senator Dotzler to make sure this legislation progresses.
Because of the consolidated session time-table, it will be extremely important that you, hunger-relief advocates, food pantries, and leaders in the state rise up and speak in favor of new policy. We don’t want to miss this opportunity. Stay tuned to the Iowa Food Bank Association through April to get the latest updates from the capitol. We will request emails and calls to the statehouse at a few of the key moments this session. Please know, however, it is never too early to call your legislator and tell them that ensuring all Iowans have access to food should be a priority. Together, we can leverage the change needed to address hunger. Together, we can make a difference.