Agency Spotlight: North Liberty Pantry
Approximately, 75% of the individuals accessing emergency food through food pantries, community kitchens and shelters are eligible for SNAP, but 25% of them have never applied (Hunger in America 2010, Feeding America). In order to address this gap, the North Liberty Community Pantry has partnered with the Iowa Food Bank Association to provide SNAP Outreach assistance on-site during select food pantry hours. This additional service allows pantry clients to sign-up for Food Assistance (formerly known as Food Stamps), at the pantry with the help of a trained volunteer.
The North Liberty Community Pantry (NLCP) encourages families to shop for their own food as often as once per week. In 2006 we took a leap of faith and changed from distributing pre-sacked bags to providing a client-choice method of food distribution. Families choose what they need and there are few limits on more expensive, less available items such as meat and toiletries.
The Pantry is a place where people come together and support one another. Community is built every day in the Pantry. The families we serve help each other, volunteers and families get to know each other, and the community becomes stronger as a whole.
In 2013 the NLCP served 531 families who made 7521 visits to the Pantry. We distributed more than 240,000 pounds of food and toiletries. More than 9300 pieces of clothing including special distributions of coats and socks & underwear were also distributed to families we serve. During our annual family interview, 40% of families reported that the Pantry meets their needs for 2-3 meals per day – the NLCP is the primary food source for these families. We have 130 volunteers who dedicated more than 7700 hours of volunteer time in 2013.
By providing SNAP Outreach as part of our pantry services we are helping families to become more financially independent. Furthermore, these benefits allow families to purchase foods to supplement what they receive from our pantry and are especially helpful for clients with dietary restrictions. By incorporating this new service within our pantry we are better able to serve our community.
-Katie Reidy, SNAP Outreach Coordinator