With mobile food pantry, Our Lady of Lourdes broadens outreach


By Anne Marie Amacher

Davenport Assumption High School students Drake Grenier, Jack Schwirtz, Matt Vonderhaar, Zach Kazmerik and Jimmy Huiskamp help unload boxes of food at a mobile food pantry at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf Nov. 17.

For the past three years, River Bend Foodbank based in Moline, Ill., has gone into its service area twice a month with a mobile food pantry. Parishes, schools and other groups provide the sites and some of the volunteers.
Deacon John Weber of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf brought the mobile food bank to his parish Nov. 17 for the second time in three years. He is a member of Lourdes’ outreach committee and a River Bend Foodbank board member.
The mobile pantry fits well with the parish’s outreach program, he said. “We have the facilities inside and outside (in case of bad weather) and the volunteers. It is uplifting to help.”
Father Tim Sheedy, pastor, thinks more people are in need this year than a year ago. “We as a community are doing more to help the less fortunate.”
As the truck from River Bend arrived, volunteers from Lourdes, Assumption High School in Davenport, Mid American Basement Systems in Davenport, Girl Scout Troop 8437 of Garfield Elementary in Davenport and other individuals gathered to unload, set up and distribute food to about 90 people.
Caren Laughlin, marketing director for River Bend Foodbank, said people find out about the mobile food pantries in various ways. For the Lourdes distribution, for example, volunteers went door to door in the neighborhood, notified schools and visited a neighboring motel to make people aware of the mobile pantry.
She noted that senior citizens oftentimes do not go to food pantries because they feel others need the food more than they do. The seniors will attend mobile pantries, though, because the requirements are limited to signing in with a name and phone number.
Each month, the mobile pantry travels to a metro Quad-Cities site and on another date to the outlying counties that River Bend Foodbank serves. Hubbell-Waterman Foundation sponsors the Quad-City mobile pantries.
The food offered varies each time, Laughlin noted. The Lourdes distribution included beans, cereal, juice, bread, bakery items, protein and mouthwash, among other items.
For the first hour, as volunteers unloaded the truck and set up tables with food items, other volunteers signed in people picking up food. When the hour-long registration was completed, Laughlin said the volunteers calculated how much food could be distributed to each person. “We have never run out of food.”
Volunteers grabbed red wagons, placed a box inside each one and lined up to meet the recipients. Volunteers loaded the food as they walked alongside the recipients and helped load the filled boxes into the recipients’ vehicles. Some people receiving food did not have vehicles and walked to their destinations.
For more information on River Bend Foodbank or how to host a mobile food pantry, call (309) 764-7434.

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