CLINTON — Four times a year, the mobile food pantry by Information, Referral and Assistance Services attempts to fill the gap for those in need.
Polly Jacobs, a Clinton resident, is one person who has turned to the mobile food pantry and said the help is critical for her. She said after a cancer diagnosis 18 months ago and going on disability, the food helps keep her a little more food secure.
“(The mobile pantry) means many weeks the difference between eating and not eating,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs joined several others Thursday at Central Catholic Auditorium to partake in the pantry. She said between her and her husband both being on disability, it can make things like buying food very tight on their budget.
Jacobs said the most helpful part is the compassion she gets from volunteers and those involved from IRAS.
“I think the people do a great job; they treat everyone kindly and make you feel like you’re not having to beg for a handout and are just on tough times,” Jacobs said.
Regan Michaelsen, executive director of IRAS, said the mobile food pantry was formed to help those like Jacobs who need assistance.
“It’s just kind of everybody working together to fill a need,” Michaelsen said.
The quarterly events started in 2011 and are stocked by food from the River Bend Foodbank and with other food donated by Archer Daniels Midland.
Michaelsen said the food given to the 100 to 200 people that normally show up for the mobile food pantry generally supplements their food at home. Thursday’s food included things like a soups, vegetables, corn and cereal.
Maria Gullatt, a Clinton resident who was one of the estimated 130 who received food on Thursday, also was picking up food for elderly neighbors.
“Boy I just can’t say enough, everybody is fantastic at these events and they’re very appreciated and help a lot of people,” Gullatt said.
The majority of the events are hosted at Central Catholic Auditorium because it gives the group the opportunity to either be inside or outside depending on the weather.
Over the years since they’ve started, Michaelsen said now they’ve got the mobile food pantry down to a science.
“I think it is a pretty well oiled machine now, everybody knows their part and we’ve got volunteers that come to almost every single one of them. As you can see, these guys are ready to do what they need to do,” Michaelsen said.
More information on the events can be found at Irasclinton.com or by calling IRAS at 243-5818.