Food bank provides county with 200K of food annually
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Neal Abbott, executive director of the Food Bank of Southern Iowa, told the Henry County supervisors Tuesday during the board’s regular meeting that his job is to feed people.
To help him in his task, Abbott asked the supervisors for their annual contribution of $1,500 which was approved. The funding comes from the county’s general relief fund.
Abbott said that in 2016, the food bank provided just shy of 200,000 pounds of food to Henry County, most of which went to The Fellowship Cup and Southeast Iowa Community Action. Three other Henry County agencies are also served by the food bank.
“We continue to grow.” Abbott, who has been director of the food bank for eight years, told the supervisors. “When I took over, we delivered about 800,000 pounds of food a year. Now, we are up to two million pounds.”
The food bank serves 13 counties — Henry, Mahaska, Keokuk, Louisa, Des Moines, Lee, Van Buren, Jefferson, Wapello, Davis, Monroe, Appanoose and Wayne — in southern and southeast Iowa. The food bank director said the bank serves 20 percent of the population in those 13 counties.
Henry County is the food bank’s third largest customer, ranking behind Wapello and Des Moines counties, according to Abbott.
Asked whether the agency was going to raise its prices in 2017, Abbott said they won’t if he has his way. “The board (of directors) is considering changing it. My job is to feed people, not make money. I oppose raising our prices. I am very proud of our delivery system, but it is expensive.”
Currently, the food bank charges 14 cents per pound (4 cents for federal commodities) for its food and 7 cents to deliver it. With the exception of federal commodities, Abbott said the food bank pays about 11 cents per pound for its food.
He said the contract the bank has with Feeding America allows the Food Bank of Southern Iowa to charge a maximum of 18 cents per pound for food and 10 cents to deliver it.
Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss also gave his weekly report to the supervisors. “Our work last week was very similar to the week before. We worked on roads last week and will be working on them again this week,” he said.
County gravel roads, Hotchkiss said, “are looking pretty good, although we are still getting some complaints. We had a chance last week to close up some of the ruts on the gravel roads. In general, the roads have done well.”
He said that sunshine and wind “help a lot” in drying out the gravel roads. “We will keep working on the highly-traveled roads.”
Thus far this winter, the county has spent about $30,000-$36,000 of its $200,000 snow removal budget, Hotchkiss added.
Other work by the secondary-roads department last week included removing brush along county roads; continuing spotting rock; and continuing the stripping at the quarry.
In remaining business, the supervisors appointed Teresa Mertens and Chad White to the county board of adjustment.
The board meets again on Thursday at 9 a.m., in the Henry County Courthouse.