116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — The Coralville Community Food Pantry is about halfway to its goal of raising $1.2 million for a customized building twice the size of its current space.
The food pantry has been working with its top supporters for the last nine months and went public with its fundraising campaign in October. The “More Than a Pantry” campaign has raised close to $650,000, executive director John Boller said.
“We definitely are leaning on our community members to help us get to that finish line and make sure that we can get our goal met in the next couple of months,” Boller said.
The Coralville food pantry opened in 2009 and was ran by volunteers for the first few years, Boller said. He was brought on board in 2012 as the pantry’s first paid staff person.
The pantry has operated out of the former Coralville Post Office for the last six years. This location, 1002 Fifth St., never was intended to serve as a permanent home, Boller said.
Longtime partners at the Coralville United Methodist Church gifted land for the new 5,000-square-foot building. The new food pantry will be built on the empty lot attached to the church, at 806 13th Ave.
The location is within walking distance to the Coralville Rec Center and Northwest Junior High. There will be parking spaces, as well as a bus stop on the corner.
The need for extra space is “more obvious than ever in the last 18 months,” Boller said.
Throughout the pandemic, Boller said the food pantry saw an increase of about 15 percent in total families served. The pantry served 1,162 families in 2020.
This year, the pantry continues to see “pretty consistently a lot of first-time visitors,” Boller said.
“We're still seeing a lot of Coralville residents who are just really struggling financially, and too, folks who are kind of on the higher end of the spectrum of being food insecure who really rely on us multiple times a week,” Boller said.
In addition to having more dry and cold food storage space, the building will have a larger welcome area and pantry shopping area, which will allow more people to come in at a given time, Boller said.
Other features include an educational garden, outdoor cooking space and access to the church kitchen.
Boller said the pantry could become a “one-stop shop.” There also are discussions of collaborating with nonprofits or community groups to offer mobile health clinics, cooking classes and entrepreneurial support.
“We envision so much exciting and innovative programming that could come out of that space, especially the kitchen,” Boller said, adding that the pantry would like to launch a hot meal program.
“We want people to feel that they're at home, they're welcome, that they don't need to feel ashamed to come and visit a food pantry because we are just a welcoming space that makes everybody feel equal and at home.”
The $1.2 million building is being designed by Neumann Monson Architects and will be constructed by Hodge Construction. Boller said groundbreaking is planned for early December, and the new space could have its doors open by late fall of next year.
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