Hungry families getting a ‘LIFT’ in Lansing

The Lansing Iowa Food Trust (LIFT) is providing warm meals for area families this holiday season. This new nonprofit opened in October and typically serves 18-20 households per week during its Wednesday evening pickup hours. There are currently 158 individuals being served, and LIFT board members expect that number to grow.

LIFT received a $15,000 grant from the Allamakee County Community Foundation (ACCF) through its partnership with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. ACCF’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Allamakee County, and each year it accepts grant applications from nonprofits. The $15,000 awarded to LIFT was used to purchase two refrigerators, two freezers, shelving, tables, a hand truck for transporting cases of food and other items, and a food scale.

“My dad was a seasonal worker, so I knew what it was like to be in need,” said Chris McKee, vice president of the seven-member volunteer LIFT board. “The most heartbreaking thing to me was a young client who started crying, saying, ‘I shouldn’t have to be here.’ But everybody at one time in their life has had something bad happen and when you walk through that door, there’s no judgment, ever. You’re just welcome. No one should go to bed hungry.”

On its first night, LIFT served 10 families. “We are now serving 69 families, so obviously there is a big need,” said McKee. “At least half the families have young children.” Clients can come every other week to pick up canned fruits and vegetables, meat, pastas and sauces, milk, soups, and as much fresh produce, dried beans, and rice as they need. All that is required is that first-time clients provide their name and physical address. After that, clients can designate a pick-up person if they are unable to pick up items themselves on Wednesday evenings.

LIFT orders food monthly from the Northeast Iowa Food Bank at a highly reduced cost. The food bank also donates fresh produce weekly. Local stores like Kwik Trip and IGA have consistently provided meat and bread, and local churches have also contributed. Our Savior’s Lutheran Church makes a standing monthly donation.

“A woman on her own purchased 10 frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving, and we had one man donate 400 pounds of hamburger – so there are a lot of wonderful people in the community helping,” said McKee. “We have had a lot of community support from 45-50 volunteers that help stock shelves, including high school students. The school has done a couple of food drives for us.” 

During the holidays, McKee would especially like to be able to provide families with personal items like shampoo, soap and toilet paper. Community members can also donate canned goods, frozen foods, peanut butter, and professionally processed, frozen meat. During the growing season, LIFT will be able to accept donations of fresh produce from farmers.

Administratively, LIFT’s needs include a functional laptop for tracking inventory and expenses. Monetary donations are also helpful, especially in light of the rising utility costs winter will bring. Checks should be made out to LIFT and can be mailed to LIFT Food Pantry at PO Box 421, Lansing, Iowa 52151.

For more information, contact any LIFT board member: President Karen Galema (563-538-4641), treasurer Janice Rea (563-568-1956), secretary Gary Krapfl, Faye Halverson, Kim Timmerman, Chad Steckel, or McKee (563-217-9371). LIFT is located at 220 S. 3rd Street in Lansing and is open for service Wednesday evenings from 4-7 p.m.

“This is a great way to give something back to the community. I think all the board members feel that way — it’s just good to give back,” said McKee. “We really want people to use our services.”

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Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.