Help your neighbors by donating to the North Liberty Community Pantry.

Add “special instructions” to specify your donation for the Growing Together Gardening,  a memorial or honorary gift, personal hygiene or other specific focus.

The Pantry is part of a non-profit organization (a 501(c)(3)). All monetary donations are tax deductible.
The North Liberty Community Pantry Tax ID #: 42-1233284

To donate by check
Checks should be made out to North Liberty Community Pantry and sent to:
North Liberty Community Pantry
89 N Jones Blvd
North Liberty , IA 52317

Automatic Monthly Donations
Please complete the donor form or contact us if you would like information about making automatic monthly donations. Automatic monthly donations will be made on the date specified. If the date specified is a holiday or weekend, the funds will be transferred on the last business day prior to the designated day.

To donate to the pantry through our endowment fund
Contact the Community Foundation of Johnson County.

Families in the North Liberty and small towns in Johnson County need food and clothing at an increasing rate. Your financial donation enables the Pantry to obtain low-cost food from the HACAP Food Reservoir and additional food purchases. It also pays for transporting food, and for pantry operations. Donations are used to purchase coats, socks, and underwear for children in the fall.

Donor Appreciation

We honor our donors at the following levels:

  • Up to $100: Contributor
  • $100 to $499: Supporter
  • $500 to $999: Neighbor
  • $1,000 to $9,999: Friend
  • $10,000 to $24,999: Builder
  • $25,000 and above: Cornerstone

Please indicate if you would like to remain anonymous.


Which Milk is Best for You?

June was Dairy Month, so let’s talk milk! Milk, as well as other dairy products, is a part of a healthy balanced diet. Milk is a good source of protein: 8 grams per cup and 8 other essential nutrients to promote good health. Consumption of dairy products is important for bone health. It can also help to maintain healthy blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This infographic shows how milk is a natural nutrient powerhouse!


Most people know that milk is a good source of protein and essential nutrients, but there is still some confusion about which milk fat percentage is the best choice. Did you know that all cow’s milk, no matter the percentage of fat, contain the same 9 essential nutrients? To help clarify some confusion, here are the differences between different cow’s milk.

  • Whole Milk: 3.25% milk fat, 150 calories/serving
  • Reduced-fat Milk: 2% milk fat, 120 calories/serving
  • Low-fat Milk: 1% milk fat, 100 calories/serving
  • Skim Milk: 0% milk fat, 80 calories/serving

That’s right; the only differences are the milk fat percentage and calories per serving. The amount of protein, carbohydrates, and nutrients remain the same. Vitamin A and D are usually fortified back in lower fat milks, which is lost during the skimming process.

So, which is better for you to drink? It completely depends on your tastes, and what your goals are. If you are trying to gain weight, whole or 2% milk is probably a better option. If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, 1% or skim is probably a better option. If you prefer a higher fat milk but are looking to lose weight, try 2% instead of whole milk.

No matter which cow’s milk you chose, you will be getting a good source of protein and other essential vitamins. Include 3-servings of dairy as part of a healthy diet.

Ashley Pearson, RDN, LDN

Registered Dietitian at Performance Fitness



4 Healthy Grilling Favorites


Summer’s here and you’re ready to grill! Yes, burgers and hot dogs are easy but there are plenty of other quick options that are much healthier. Here are my top 4 favorites!

Portabello mushrooms – These are a great alternative to burgers and are so easy! Get the large portabello mushrooms, twist off the stem, brush with balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings (steak seasoning, garlic, salt, pepper, etc). Grill on medium high heat until it starts to soften. Towards the end, you can add some cheese if you’d like…goat cheese is my favorite. You can throw it on a bun with some siracha mayo or pesto and dinner is served!

Pizzas – Pizzas are so easy to do on a grill and fun for the kids to make. The simplest way to do it is to purchase premade pizza crusts, naan bread or pitas. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side, remove from grill and top with pizza sauce, your favorite toppings and cheese. Grill on medium heat until the cheese is melting.

Fish Foil Pouches  – Steaming fish on the grill with veggies is so healthy and delicious! Take a large piece of foil and spray with cooking spray. Place sliced veggies on the foil (my favorites are zucchini or cabbage), top with fish fillets such as tilapia or swai, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon pepper or your favorite seasoning. Fold in the sides to create a tightly enclosed pouch making sure there’s room for steam as that is how it cooks. Grill on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes and then let it continue to steam off the grill for 5 minutes before carefully opening the packet. Check out these easy mix and match fish packets!

Grilled fruit – Grilling fruit turns them into sweet, juicy creations perfect for a fun dessert. My favorite is sliced pineapple grilled over medium heat until charred and softened. Pull off the grill, drizzle with honey or maple syrup, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with whipped cream or a dollop of ice cream. Check out this article for more grilled fruit ideas!

Now you’re ready to fire up your grill and find some new healthy favorites!

By: Shane Von Holten


5 Tips for a Bountiful Garden

5 Tips for a Bountiful Garden


Jump for joy! It’s that time of year to get your hands dirty and dive into your garden. But gardener beware…all sorts of craziness can ensue if you don’t keep these 5 tips in mind:

  1. Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More Resist the urge to start throwing stuff into your garden without planning first. I’ve made that mistake before and then dealt with the attack of the killer tomatoes. Seriously, they took over the garden and it was not pretty. When planning your garden, think about what time of year each plant will be in season. Plan for produce throughout the growing season from spring lettuces to fall squashes. Also, know where the sun hits your garden at what time of day and plan accordingly. Lastly, make sure you allow for space between areas of plants so you have room to get in there and weed and gather your garden bounty.
  2. Prep that Dirt – Before planting, it’s important to make sure your soil is at its’ best. It’s common for our local ground to be more clay than soil. Mix in planting soil and/or compost with a shovel or rototiller to start your garden off right.
  3. Give them a Drink – How much to water and how often? There is no magic answer. In hot, dry weather, water every few days and look for signs that your plants are thirsty such as dry, wilting leaves.  If the soil looks dry, stick your fingers down into the dirt to feel if it’s moist. If not, give it a drink, at the base and slowly so the plants don’t become waterlogged. Signs of too much water include wet and wilting leaves, brown or yellow leaves and root rot.
  4. Control those Weeds – Plants need room to breathe but weeds can make that difficult. Help stop their growth by covering weeds with newspaper strips or cardboard and untreated grass clippings or mulch. Regularly yank weeds from the garden, especially ones that are close to the roots of plants. Pull close to the base to get the roots out and use a hand tool if necessary. I find it easiest to pull weeds a day or so after it has rained while the soil is still soft. Get the whole family involved and make it a weed pulling party.
  5. Help our bees  – Bees are crucial to our planet but their numbers are declining at an alarming rate. You can help the bees by planting a variety of bee-friendly plants and flowers. Not only will this help the bee population but they are natural pollinators and will make your garden even more colorful and bountiful. Read more bee-friendly gardening tips from the Honeybee Conservancy.

There you have it! Get going on your garden and reap the rewards of your efforts all season long. Don’t have a garden of your own or want to dig in more?  View details on how you and your family can help our Pantry’s Growing Together Garden. Learn to grow food, give your time, and share the harvest with our community.

By: Shane Von Holten


Hack Your Mac: Mac & Cheese Bites

IMG_7746.JPGAre you sick of making the same old boxed mac and cheese for your picky eaters (or even yourself?) Or do you love mac and cheese so much that you could eat the whole pan without ever realizing it until you catch yourself scraping the pan to get the last bite of cheesy noodle deliciousness? In the interest of trying something new, I decided to hack my mac.

I was faced with a pretty straightforward recipe: baked mac and cheese bites.

As usual, I cooked up a pan of boxed stove-top mac and cheese.  I also set my oven to 375 so it could warm up while my noodles cooked.  After draining the noodles and adding the packet of cheese with milk and butter, then stirring until everything was smooth and creamy, I dug out my mini cupcake pan.

I was quite curious as to the best way to make the mac and cheese bites, and which methodIMG_7743.JPG would be the most effective for stick-free removal. So I decided to try 3 different methods. For 8 of the mini cups, I simply sprayed the cups with olive oil. For the next 8, I used stick-free mini cupcake wrappers. And for the last 8, I used the stick-free cupcake wrappers, but doubting the “stick-free” part, I sprayed them with olive oil.

IMG_7744.JPGNext, I used a soup spoon and started scooping spoonfuls of mac and cheese into each of the mini cupcake holders. Planning for 24 bites, I was actually able to only fill 21.

Thinking they looked a little plain, I topped half of them with Italian-style breadcrumbs and left the other half alone. About this time my daughter walked in to see what was going on. She wrinkled her nose at the breadcrumbs, I rolled my eyes at her lack of adventure, then popped the mini cupcake tray into the oven.

Twenty minutes later, the bites were done. Those with the breadcrumbs had a nice golden crust to them and the bites without looked a little dry.  I left them on the counter to IMG_7748.JPGsolidify and cool off for 10 minutes.  By this time, both my kids were hovering and every 30 seconds or so asking, “Are they done yet?” I finally relented and we all picked a bite to try.

The bites easily slide out of the cups and wrappers. All 3 methods worked beautifully – no noodle was left behind. My 10-year old daughter and 12-year old son were huge fans of the mac and cheese bites without the breadcrumbs.  I consider myself having a more refined palate, so I enjoyed the bites with the breadcrumbs.

Overall, the mac and cheese bites were a little dry for my tastes. I’d rather dive into a big bowl of melty-cheesy gooeyness. However, eating small mac and cheese bites definitely kept me from over-eating the recommended portion size. In fact, after 3 mac and cheese bites, my craving was satisfied. Which was a good thing, because when I looked back to see what was left, I discovered every last bite was gone! My kids had devoured them and were asking if I could make more. Success!

Recipe available here.

Authored by: Rae Mosier



Honestly, The Greatest Quesadilla

Since I started working at the Pantry, I noticed that beans are always available. Beans of all shapes and sizes–black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, bean beans, dry beans…the list is endless. The abundance of beans, along with Bean Day (you don’t celebrate?), inspired me to come up with a quick and easy recipe using beans.

Our PEAS committee arrived at what I found to be the greatest quesadilla ever. Don’t believe me? Well, you can find the recipe below and Take it to the Kitchen yourself.

Quesadillas make for a delicious and affordable meal that can please a 3 year old or even the most advanced foodie. A win-win!

Take it to the Kitchenimg_7280

Thanks to one of the Pantry’s all star volunteers, I was able to make these quesadillas using a quesadilla maker! Classy, I know. This recipe instructs you to cook them over the stove, which is perfect if you don’t have a quesadilla maker.  

The recipe is simple and more nutritious value than your OQ (original quesadilla)–cheese. I used a smaller tortilla than what the recipe calls for, for two reasons. First, I wanted to provide as many samples as I could try. The Guerrero tortillas come in a pack of 80 and cost just under $3.00–very affordable! Secondly, these tortillas are gluten free, so people with gluten allergies or sensitivities could enjoy the recipe and make it at home.

The cheese is the glue of any good quesadilla. Since the recipe doesn’t specify what cheese to use, I used mild cheddar.img_7281

Thanks to our partnership with Frontier Natural Products Co-op, we were able to use their delicious taco seasoning, which I used as the “quesadilla seasoning”. I must say, the seasoning really made the quesadillas pop! Their spice line (Simply Organic) is available at the Pantry and most local grocery stores.

Anyhow, to start I threw together all the ingredients into one bowl and mixed it with my (clean) hands. Less clean up. I’m all about less clean up! Make sure that the seasoning and other ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the mixture so that each quesadilla will taste the same.

Next, I took a tortilla and put about ½ cup of mixture on it then placed another tortilla on top, making a sandwich because tortillas were too small to fold in half as the recipe calls for.img_7290

I placed the quesadillas into the preheated quesadilla maker and shut the lid as it sizzled and popped. In a short few seconds an aroma of cheese and spices filled the room. I knew this was going to be delicious just from the smells. If you’re lucky, a bit of the cheese from your quesadilla will ooze out the sides and brown up creating some serious flavor.

I was surprised when I opened the maker and found that it had cooked the quesadilla and cut it into img_7291triangles! Technology…who knew?

After I took them off the quesadilla maker, I let them cool for a moment to hardened up enough to be served.

All in all, Pantry shoppers were pleased with the quesadillas and all the pre-made ingredient packages (25) went home with families. On top of it all, I was able to finally show off my new toy…a sampling stand! We were lucky enough to purchase this stand thanks to Theisen’s More For Your Community Grant we were awarded.


*To freeze for later, place uncooked quesadillas on a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour to allow to solidify, then transfer to freezer bag. To reheat, either microwave (for soft quesadillas) or cook in skillet over low heat (make sure to use low heat so the filling has time to thaw and melt before the outside burns).  

Author: Steven Williams


Black Bean Brownies

“Brownies can’t be healthy!”

Says, who?

It’s easy to believe a chocolate brownie could never be healthy, but that’s just not true. What if we told you there is a brownie that has health benefits and uses ingredients accessible at the Pantry or at a low cost at your local grocer? Well, we just did.

Join Special Projects Coordinator Steven for this month’s Take it to the Kitchen.

In the Kitchen

Black. Bean. Brownies. It might sound odd and there was some definite hesitation at first, but I took it to the kitchen to try it myself and share with you. At NLCP, we work to come up with healthy and creative ways to use ingredients readily available at the Pantry through our PEAS initiative.

On the eve of my cooking adventure, I overheard a Pantry shopper talking to a volunteer about baking and using substitutes. I joined in on the conversation after she mentioned applesauce and brownies. Caught off guard, I explained to her what I was attempting—black beans brownies with applesauce.

She warned me that making brownies using applesauce to substitute oil can end messy, but to “just keep experimenting until you get it right.” With that knowledge, I stuck to what I had, oil.


I started by making sure to rinse the canned black beans. This helps remove all the added preservatives.

When I added the first seven ingredients (black beans, eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, salt, cocoa powder) the consistency didn’t look right. It was too soupy. Was I missing something? I decided I needed to puree the beans a little to make a thicker texture. I brought in my “magic wand” or more commonly referred to as a hand blender.


After I blended the black beans, the texture was more trusting to put in the oven for 30 minutes. I sprinkled the chocolate chips on top and tossed the brownies in the oven at 350° F. When I checked the brownies after 30 minutes, they had pulled away from the pan, letting me know they were ready.

The Brownie Test

Now, the brownie test. Were these really going to taste like any other brownie or were they going to taste like black beans?

Smell test. They definitely smelled like chocolate brownies.

Visual test. They looked like brownies.

Texture test. When I cut into them, the texture reminded me more of fudge and less like a chewy brownie. No complaints there.

Taste test. My taste buds couldn’t pick up the slightest taste of black beans. They were delicious!

I highly recommend taking it to the kitchen and trying a twist to the classic chocolate brownie. They’re fudgy, tender, moist, studded with gooey chocolate chips, quick, and easy. Even if you are hesitant to make them for your friends and family, do it! I guarantee no one will even realize they’re eating black beans. Plus, for your gluten free crowd, you’ve got them covered.


Sold? You can find the recipe here.