Church Hopes to Keep Congregate Dining Site in Ely

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

ELY, Iowa - ELY, Iowa - A Linn County church is trying to save a congregate dining site in Ely from closure.

Earlier this month, Horizons Meals on Wheels announced budget cuts were forcing the closure of five congregate dining sites in Linn County, April 30th.

The community center in Ely was one of the five. There, about 30 people show up on Tuesdays and Fridays to eat and socialize.

Pastor Erika Uthe at St. John Lutheran Church heard about the closure through a member of her congregation. Uthe said she knew instantly she wanted to help.

"For us, feeding people is a huge mission," Uthe said.

Uthe said her church will continue serving meals at the community center once Horizons stops. She said the church is searching for a food provider and volunteers to prepare, serve, and cleanup.

To pay for meals, Uthe said she's asking for donations from the public. She said the church will also continue asking for voluntary contributions from clients, just as Horizons did.

"It's a lot of work to get done by May 2nd, our first meal," Uthe said. "But, where there is a will there's a way. I know that Ely can come together and we can continue to make this happen."

Horizons officials needed to cut $200,000 from their meal budget for 2015. That equals more than 35,000 meals. Officials said the financial bind comes after an increase in the number of clients, but a decrease in clients' voluntary contributions.
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