BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison Food Pantry is reporting that their funding levels for 2018 are currently at about 1/3 of where they typically are at this time of year.
Lin Cramer, the pantry’s board president, replacing George Gaudette, who stepped down this week, said funding is dropping while expense are increasing and that dynamic has the group’s funding tight.
In a letter to Pen City Current, board member Denise Fraise said funds are at “dangerous levels” and the group is looking for additional donations of cash to help purchase less expensive food through the Iowa Food Bank.
The food bank charges the local pantry about .07/pound for deliveries.
“We can get more food from the cash donations. Food Bank Iowa, they charge us .07 per pound. Although they don’t have everything we want to give to our clients, that gives more food than we can buy locally,” Cramer said Thursday afternoon.
She said local groceries like Fareway, Hy-Vee, and Aldi’s are very good about providing supplies for their shelves, but the pantry is serving 400 more families this year than in years past.
“I started comparing our statements and in 2016 we ended with $67,000 in donations. This last year through Dec. of 2017 were down by about $6,000,” she said. “When I got to looking at expenses, last year they were around $67,600 almost $68,000 and this year they were over 71,000 and sitting right now we’re at about 1/3 of what we’d like to have in our account.”
She said the recent layoffs at Siemens, where more than 200 permanent layoffs happened just over two weeks ago, will also add to the demand at the pantry at some point.
The pantry also had an 11% increase in families visiting the office, which is now located in the former Idol Rashid Library building. In 2016 the pantry served 3,300 familes and in 2017 that number jumped to 3,700.
“I’m afraid with the economy now being shaky and the local layoffs we’re gonna see even greater numbers.”
She said a committee meeting is being set up for next week when the board can brainstorm and try to find options to mitigate the budget crunch. She said the board may have to look at events like the holiday Christmas basket and reduce offerings there and go back to the businesses to find extra food and funds.
“Next year we may not be able to give all those things away. Those certainly aren’t the better ways to go about fixing the problems. We really rely on church donations, businesses, and all the small fundraising that goes on, just the numbers are down,” Cramer said. “We’re also looking at grants and other ways to increase our funding. Right now I guess it would be me writing them, but I don’t have a lot of experience with that and we don’t have a grant writer on the board, so if there’s someone out there who has experience in that and would like to help us, that would be wonderful.”
Anyone wishing to make donations can send them to PO Box 273, Fort Madison, IA 52627 or donations may be dropped off at the Pantry located at 3421 Avenue L, Fort Madison, IA.
For more information you can visit https://www.facebook.com/Fort-Madison-Food-Pantry-1554159578212844/.