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The number of needy volunteers as clients has nearly doubled since January

CHUCK VANDENBERG
PKS EDITOR

FORT MADison. With the perfect storm, Fort Madison’s food pantry is busier than ever.

According to board member Lyn Cramer, since the beginning of the year, the flow of customers in grocery stores has almost reached 100%.

“In January, we saw an average of about 20 clients a day. We’ve seen an average of 37 this month, so we’ve almost doubled. As the month goes by, I think we’ll see it get even bigger,” Kramer said.

In May, she said the pantry was taking in about 31 people a day.

Cramer, a former pantry director, said the community has been very generous with donations and funding, but she said what’s most needed right now is the quantity.

“The community has been so good with funding and donations, we’re pretty good at it, but we’re sure we could use some volunteers.”

She said shifts typically last two to three hours in the pantry, or even spend an hour or so a week helping pick up food for delivery to the pantry. Assistance is also required to unload trucks due to increased demand.

“We could use a little muscle,” she said.

Cramer said those who wish can call the pantry and from there they can coordinate volunteer hours. Number 319-372-8071.

She said the Iowa food bank is helping a lot as the numbers go up, but some things like venison are getting harder and harder to get because even the food bank is having problems.

“It’s a little unusual because we used to get a lot from the food bank and we don’t have that anymore. But that should change as the season progresses.”

Fruits and groceries usually come from local grocery stores, she says, but there aren’t as many as they used to be because there’s a problem with groceries. But everyone helps as much as they can.

She said the stock on site is still quite large, so anyone who needs help with food insecurity should go to the pantry at 3421 Avenue L.

As inflation continues to rise, causing prices to rise, Cramer believes that the number of customers using the pantry will continue to grow, and now the question arises of the need for people who could help with the increased demand.

The food pantry added a few hours in early June and now stays open until 5pm on Wednesdays.

“The first adventure of our extended hours happened last week and was met with great enthusiasm,” she said.

“Each client, passing through the doors of the Buffet, told how happy he was with the new work schedule and how without this extension he could not be there. They really needed help, and now the Storeroom was ready to help them.”

The board of Pantry wanted to extend the opening hours, but the pandemic broke out, putting a stop to any expansion of the hours.

The new pantry hours are Monday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Wednesday, from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00. As before, customers only need to carry a photo ID and proof of address.

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