By Anne Marie Amacher
BETTENDORF — Deacon John Weber of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish learned about a mobile food pantry while serving on River Bend Foodbank’s board and thought it would be a good fit for his parish.
With the parish’s approval and the generosity of a donor who covered the cost (approximately $2,000) to host the mobile pantry, the service was offered in Lourdes’ parking lot June 11.
“This is incredible,” Deacon Weber said as red wagons full of food were delivered to cars in the lot.
Caren Laughlin, marketing director of River Bend Foodbank — based in Moline, Ill. — said the mobile pantry was developed because of the need to reach out to people in the 22 counties the foodbank serves.
The Lourdes pantry helped about 75 families — or as many as 500 people, counting everyone in a household. Earlier, parishioners walked to the two downtown motels and to several lower-income areas of Bettendorf to let people know about the food pantry. “There are a lot of people in this area who need some good, healthy food,” said Laughlin.
The food distributed included options such as dates, fruits, vegetables and bread. “Our emphasis is on nutrition with our mobile pantry, which is a cost-effective way to get food out to people who need it.”
Laughlin said the Lourdes pantry was a smaller one, but worked well — especially since it had so many volunteers. “They are very committed here. This is one of the best with the number of volunteers.”
The idea for a mobile pantry began when a foodbank in Michigan had extra fresh fruit. One of that foodbank’s staff saw a beer truck and thought, “what if I could bring it out and deliver the fruit to those in need.” So from there, the first mobile unit began.
Laughlin said about half of the food banks in the U.S. offer a mobile food pantry.
For more information on River Bend Foodbank or how to host a mobile food pantry, call (309) 764-7434.