Hunger March is March 8

Now in existence for 40 years, the Lord’s Cupboard is Webster County’s largest source of help for the food insecure. The mission is to continue Christ’s work by feeding the unemployed, the working poor, the elderly and the physically and mentally challenged in the Fort Dodge area. Lord’s Cupboard strives to foster a caring atmosphere and treat each person with dignity and care about each one as an individual. It is dedicated to maintaining a continuous growth in service to assist the clients to improve their quality of life. It is the hope that those who receive food will be strengthened both in body and soul. In order to meet the mission and provide services in the community, the Lord’s Cupboard relies on the generosity of individuals, churches and businesses for support.

For the first time the Lord’s Cupboard is excited to have a communitywide event to support its efforts. That’s true, and may be surprising, but the community and businesses have never been publicly asked for support. The time in the economy has come where it is taking much more to provide than in the humble beginnings of a “pantry” 40 years ago.

A Hunger March will be held March 8 at 10 a.m. at the Crossroads Mall. A special VIP event will be held March 7 for business donors, and teams that reach their goals. Nonperishable food donations will be collected this same weekend as admission to The Messenger’s Home and Garden Show as well. The Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way will be used to match the first $7,500 of donations. This means if $7,500 in business and private donations are made, the goal of $15,000 will be met. What a tremendous achievement this will be for the first communitywide effort to support the Lord’s Cupboard.

One of the goals of the Lord’s Cupboard director and Advisory Board is more community involvement and awareness. The national average for those that are food insecure – meaning having to make financial choices between putting food on the table or a roof over their head – is 12.9 percent and in Webster Coout that jumps to 15 percent. That is 1 in 5 children and over 3,600 individuals in the community who are food insecure. Last year the Lord’s Cupboard served 1,166 households representing over 2,800 individuals. With government food assistance programs being cut, many losing unemployment benefits after the first of the year, and the cost of eggs, milk and beef rising quickly the need has never been greater and is anticipated to increase. The Hunger March is intended as a tool to communicate what the Lord’s Cupboard provides as much as it is a fundraiser.

Even with food drives, Feeding America donations and being a Food Bank of Iowa agency the grocery bills for the Lord’s Cupboard run $6,000 to $10,000 a month presently. More than 4,000 pounds of food is distributed monthly through 24-30 volunteers seeing clients eight hours a week. Along with nonperishable food and monetary donations other ways to support the ministry include volunteering either at the Lord’s Cupboard or on the board or special event committee or collecting and bringing your plastic grocery bags in as they use hundreds a week double bagging for clients’ groceries.

To support this worthy ministry in the community you can make a donation and/ or gather co-workers, neighborhoods, friends or club members and march as a team collecting pledges. One lap around the Crossroads Mall is 5/8 of a mile, four laps is 2 miles. Pledges in any amount are accepted. Some suggestions are $5 or $8 per lap (ask your walker how many they plan to do), $25 provides a visit for one to two people or $50 a family of four. Businesses that donate $500 or more as well as Hunger March teams that collect $1,000 will be invited to a VIP event. Collect pledges on your own, join a team or make a donation and walk with us on March 8 at 10 a.m. at Crossroads Mall.

For more information contact the director of the Lord’s Cupboard, Suzanne Schwendemann, at 576-7586 or email Team packets, pledge envelopes can be picked up during office hours at First United Methodist Church 127 N. 10th St. as well as donations sent to that address. Join the Lord’s Cupboard group Facebook page as well to stay connected.

Suzanne Schwendemann is director of the Lord’s Cupboard.