Joint food program shifts focus for long term sustainability

Volunteers assembling prepacked food bags for the Muscatine Center for Social Action food pantry.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–As efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 increased in mid March, Muscatine Center for Social Action, the Salvation Army of Muscatine County, and United Way of Muscatine banded together to make sure older and elderly adults and those with underlying health conditions, received the food assistance they needed safely. They put together a short term food delivery program to bring hot meals and groceries to those groups. Looking to the long term, the joint food program knew it could not make deliveries indefinitely, and has begun working to connect people in need with long term delivery options while still providing delivered groceries and prepackaged grocery bags through the MCSA food pantry.

On June 19, the joint food program stopped delivering hot meals to people’s homes. Since those more susceptible to COID-19 will likely need food deliveries for the foreseeable future, MCSA, the Salvation Army, and United Way have worked to help people learn about ongoing food delivery opportunities in Muscatine and sign up for them. Specifically, those needing hot meal deliveries can apply for Meals on Wheels through Senior Resources or Milestones Area Agency on Aging’s home delivered meals. In both cases, programs offer low cost meals to persons over 60 or with certain health conditions or disabilities. For additional information and directions for how to sign up, you may call Senior Resources at 563-263-7292 or visit their website or contact Milestones at 855-410-6222 or see their website as well.

“Senior Resources and Milestones are great resources that offer meal programs for those who fit the qualifications,” said MCSA Resource Development Officer Jennifer Leirness. “In an effort to streamline services and keep the programs sustainable, it was the right move to start to encourage people to join Meals on Wheels or similar meal delivery programs.

Though hot meal deliveries have shifted to other organizations, the joint food program continues to bring bagged groceries to those who need them each Thursday, with the help of United Way volunteers. MCSA’s food pantry also continues to offer ready to go grocery bags for pick up. “The MCSA Food Pantry is still open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. -12 p.m. at 312 Iowa Avenue,” reminded Leirness.

As Muscatine’s many outreach organizations continue to help people with food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, Leirness thanks the community for their ongoing support. “Our staff and volunteers have put in countless hours on food pantry preparation and operation during the last few months, and we are so grateful to have so many incredible people giving time and energy to provide this service to our community.”