Food pantry, Neighbors fund in need during holidays

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The holidays are a time to give thanks, share meals with family, and spend time with those you love. But many people right here in Monticello are facing tough times with the holidays in full swing.

     The Monticello Ministerial Association (MMA) manages two missions within the area: the Monticello Food Pantry and Neighbor Helping Neighbor. According to Rev. Ed Moreano, current president of MMA. “Both funds are currently in need.” Moreano said both ministries “have been drawn upon in unprecedented numbers since spring.”

     Both missions serve the Monticello Community School District. The food pantry is located in the back of Life Connections in downtown Monticello, 205 W. First St. Patrons must enter through the front door, check in and will then be directed toward the food pantry in the back.

     Current needs of the food pantry include:

     • Canned chicken

     • Pasta sauce

     • Applesauce

     • Jelly

     • Flour

     • Sugar

     • Ketchup

     • Mustard

     • Gelatin

     • Paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, Kleenex)

     • Dish soap

     • Toothpaste, toothbrushes

     • Shampoo and other personal care items

     “Our operating fund has been haved since the summer time,” expressed Moreano. “We’ve never seen that degree of usage for years.”

     Moreano said many factors come into play as to why usage of the food pantry has skyrocketed within the last six months or so, including individuals and families still reeling from the recession.

     “Families have to reconstitute,” he said. Moreano said some families are living as multiple generations under one roof, as well as blending of family units.

     “There’s a re-shift and they’re all trying to get by,” added Moreano. “It’s a challenge for those at the bottom.”

     Aside from the actual donations of goods, more than anything, Moreano said MMA is in need of monetary donations to keep its ministries alive.

     “Financial contributions are always appreciated,” he said, “to get the funds back to where they were, and to make sure the food shelves are stocked.” Moreano said MMA spends a lot of money to purchase needed items and products to keep the pantry shelves full.

     Because the fund balance is quite low, he said MMA has resorted to temporarily suspending its voucher program.

     “We are not in a position to offer that right now,” he said.

     The voucher program is an arrangement MMA has with Fareway Stores in town where those in need can exchange the vouchers for specific goods or perishable items.

     Neighbor Helping Neighbor was set up as a monetary fund that assists families/individuals with paying bills: rent, utilities, deposits, medications, medical bills, etc. This fund is like a helping hand for one-time use versus on-going expenses. It helps meet the needs of residents and families right here in Monticello.

     Moreano said MMA is seeing the same spike in usage with Neighbor Helping Neighbor. He said the requests are more frequent and sizable as of late.

     “It’s been a constant outflow,” he said. “There’s no opportunity for the fund to build up a cushion of sorts.”

     Sadly, Moreano said MMA deals with a lot of locals who are on the verge of homelessness “or close to not having a roof over their head.”

     Both the food pantry and Neighbor Helping Neighbor, he added, were not established as permanent solutions for such individuals, but as assists.

     Aside from these services, MMA also works to connect its patrons to other sources of help to help them get back on their feet.

     “There are so many existing needs in this community,” he said. “Many of those in need are our neighbors, those we work alongside, those whose kids sit by ours in the classroom, those we sit by at church.”

     The MMA wishes to remind the community and those all over that if you feel touched or blessed this holiday season, to consider donating toward the needs of others. Moreano said donations are the most helpful if they are donated directly to the “Monticello Ministerial Association,” P.O. Box 62, Monticello, IA 52310. Checks should be made out to MMA.

     “We can direct those (donations) toward the fund with the most pressing need,” explained Moreano.

     You can either leave the donations with your local church or drop them off at the food pantry. (Use the back door.)

     The food pantry hours are 5-7 p.m. on Monday, 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, and 2-4 p.m. on Friday.


Subscriber Login