VINTON, Iowa - A cargo truck carried hundreds of pounds of food to downtown Vinton early Saturday morning, before it was emptied at the corner HACAP building. But within minutes of it being unloaded, much of it was gone.
“We had lots of fruit over on this end, vegetables, packaged salads,” said volunteer Barbara Rego, pointing at one end of a bare table inside.
Not long after the doors opened, volunteers here got a first-hand look at the level of need in this community.
“We signed in almost 100 head of households,” Rego explained, adding that for every head of household, there’s often several other people that person is providing for. “I work in a daycare center, and there’s a lot of single parents and working poor people with two jobs, but if you have three or four children, it’s very hard to keep up.”
In addition to the staples of cereal and bread, there were spices, soups, and even sushi on the menu. Rego said volunteers tried to bring a diverse selection of food, in an attempt to appeal to a broad audience.
For people who couldn’t make it downtown, volunteer Shane Monaghan delivered food to their doorsteps.
“Very thankful that they were able to get it,” Monaghan said, recalling the reactions he got from people he delivered to.
Monaghan said the idea behind the mobile pantry is to make food more accessible to the people who need it most. If the hundreds who came through Saturday morning are any indication, that idea is working.
“20 percent of Benton County needs food assistance,” Monaghan told us. For him, that rewarding feeling of lending a hand is outshined by another feeling: “It makes me feel fortunate that I’m the one being able to help, rather than the one needing the help.”