The Mobile Food Pantry truck will be back in Oelwein on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank, which operates the mobile food trucks in various communities, is continuing to work with MercyOne to serve Oelwein and Fayette County.

“We plan to do a curbside distribution, in December, to get families served as efficiently as possible and keep everyone safe,” NEIFB executive director Barbara Prather said Wednesday, dispelling concerns whether Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Nov. 16 state public health emergency proclamation that remains in effect through Dec. 10 would affect the distribution.

“We know there is a need and we want to provide this service to the community to ensure that families in this area have access to food during their time of need,” Prather said.

Beth Fish and Alli Ingels with MercyOne Oelwein Medical Center have been organizing the distribution in recent months.

“Volunteers would be helpful but we also have to abide by our guidelines,” Fish said.

There’s no paperwork needed to volunteer. However: “They must wear a mask, and don’t come if you feel ill, et cetera.”

“We appreciate the partnership of MercyOne and everyone in this area to make these distributions happen,” Prather said.

“We’re serving about 300 people on average,” said volunteer Candace King, who once helped organize but has stepped back to simply volunteering citing a busy schedule. “Pre-COVID, we were only serving about 150. So it’s double.”

Members of area business are desperately needed to volunteer, according to King.

“It’s time-consuming, and it’s hard, and it’s getting harder because there’s not enough volunteers,” King said. “And I get it with COVID — a lot of parents don’t want their kids coming.”

There’s no prior signup needed to volunteer. The rules mirror those at most places of business since the pandemic — again, masking, staying home if ill.

Food box recipients will need to sign up by giving their name and town of residence, and once a year they will have to fill out some paperwork to meet requirements of a grant to the Food Bank.

“We never turn anybody away,” King said.


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