Green Square Meals feeding three times as many people as usual

Food to-go awaits people in need at Green Square Meals on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Jordee...
Food to-go awaits people in need at Green Square Meals on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Jordee Kalk/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 2:24 PM CDT
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Volunteers in downtown Cedar Rapids are feeding three times more people in need than usual, which organizers said is directly related to the novel coronavirus.

It's a kitchen full of controlled chaos for Jill Hemann, Green Square Meals general manager. She keeps track of all the changes.

"I am stressed but we're going to make it,” Hemann said.

Food is now served in to-go containers and volunteers are serving more each day.

"Usually around 80 to 100 clients every night come in and eat until they're full, but now we're at about 250 meals out the door,” Hemann said.

It leads to some struggles.

“Right now as it stands today, we have enough food to get us through this week and next week,” Hemann said. “After that, we're not sure what will happen."

Hemann said volunteers can get creative and know ways to scrape by.

"We have lots of eggs and milk," Hermann said. "So if we have to go to scrambled eggs or egg sandwiches, it is something to eat. And it’s hot."

Hemann doesn't know how much Green Square Meals can rely on food banks for supplies, given the demand across the region. That makes her worry since she sees more people in need while driving into downtown Cedar Rapids each day.

"We got people camped out in the alley and sleeping in the shelters,” Hemann said. “We have a lot of kids that aren't in school right now so that's more stress and money going out at home, which a lot of these parents don't have this extra money and they're losing jobs so it's a big vicious cycle,” Hemann said.

Volunteers are asking for donations; from packaging meals to food donations. People can just drop off those supplies at 605 Second Avenue SE.