Pay It Forward: Volunteers feed Iowa County through Amana Food Pantry

    A group of six volunteers are responsible for keeping the Amana Food Pantry going in its year-old location at the Middle Amana Church.

    Annie Trumpold vocalizes a simple strategy to her colleagues.

    "Let's not re-invent the wheel," she says. "Let's just put cans in boxes."

    It's an easy approach to a complex problem in Iowa County: the battle against hunger.

    "I work in Iowa City," Trumpold says, "so I see the resources in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, all those towns. Iowa County really doesn't have good resources - and there's a lot of hungry people in the county."

    Up until early last year, the Amana Food Pantry was still located inside the old Middle Amana Elementary School.

    "It sort of sat and became an eye sore," Kristie Yoder says. "It was in an office area they kind of wanted to re-purpose."

    So Kristie started asking questions.

    "What would happen if we could move this pantry or make it more accessible?"

    That's how the pantry made its way to its current home in the Middle Amana Church (1112 26th Avenue). A group of six volunteers - including Yoder and Trumpold - now work to collect donations for the pantry and keep the community fed.

    There are about a dozen households considered to be "regulars" - and the volunteers estimated that they've helped 30-40 households in the last year. Those households are as small as one person and as big as eight or nine.

    The community isn't just bringing canned goods to donate, either. After all, this is Iowa. There are a few farmers around these parts. And extra garden yields are being brought to the pantry.

    "Yesterday, we gave away zucchini and cucumbers and onions," Yoder said on Monday. "Next month we'll probably have green beans and potatoes."

    Local businesses, like the Amana Meat Shop (4513 F Street), are doing their part as well.

    "'What can we purchase at a decent price?'" Yoder will ask the shop. "And they'll say, 'No, just take this.'"

    And while those in need are taking food, the volunteers are taking away something else.

    "Probably building the relationships with people," Andrea Haldy says. "You see the same people every month. It's become a friendship instead of people coming to pick up food."

    For Charlotte Heishman - seeing her church become a home for feeding mouths as well as souls makes perfect sense.

    "I think it's a good fit."

    Food can be picked up at the Amana Food Pantry every third Wednesday of the month from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and every last Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to noon.

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