One thing that makes us special is our “shopping” approach. In 2006 we took a leap of faith and changed from distributing pre-sacked bags to providing a client-choice method of food distribution. Families choose what they need and there are few limits on more expensive, less available items such as meat and toiletries.
Why shopping? This is a question we forget to ask ourselves anymore. We had some very skeptical volunteers at first, but shopping has become a unique and successful way to help families meet their needs. Research says standardized boxes increase waste. Up to half the food given will not ultimately be consumed. For us, however, in the end it is more about the respect we provide each other and the community building that develops through the relationships that are created in the Pantry.
Canned and packaged foods, as well as fresh and frozen foods, are available. Families and individuals who live in North Liberty or rural areas in Johnson County can select their own food. Residents of Coralville or Iowa City can receive small sacks of government commodities and are urged to visit their local pantry. People may come to the Pantry as often as once a week to receive food.
Those coming to the Pantry may also pick up sacks for other people if the family or individual they are picking up for is registered with the Pantry and has approved the pick-up in writing.
Clothes, shoes and outerwear for children of all ages are available throughout the year. Adult clothing is limited to coats and other cold weather wear. Four items of clothing per family member may be chosen each month.
Thanks to our partnership with Goodwill, families can receive up to two Goodwill vouchers every six months upon request.