116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — Community members continue to show their support for the Coralville Community Food Pantry’s campaign to construct a new building.
Executive director John Boller told The Gazette last year the new building will have more food storage space, as well as a larger welcome area and pantry shopping area. Other features include an educational garden, outdoor cooking space and access to the adjacent Coralville United Methodist Church kitchen.
Boller said the pantry could become a “one-stop shop.” There have been discussions to offer additional programs, such as cooking classes, entrepreneurial support, hot meals and mobile health clinics.
The Coralville food pantry opened in 2009. 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.
Longtime partners at Coralville United Methodist Church donated land for the new 5,000-square-foot building. The new food pantry will be on an empty lot attached to the church at 806 13th Ave.
The new 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.
What’s happened since?
Since going public with the fundraising campaign, the food pantry has continued to receive financial support — almost reaching its $1.5 million goal — and held a groundbreaking ceremony last month.
Construction is officially underway, which is “surreal but exciting,” Boller said.
The groundbreaking ceremony April 14 drew more than 100 community partners and supporters, including those who have made contributions toward the fundraising campaign, Boller said.
“I am beyond grateful for everyone who helped make this happen, including the church for donating the land, our generous donors, my staff, board and volunteers, and the community as a whole,” Boller said.
The project has experienced “surprises and challenges” due to supply chain issues and shortages, Boller said. These challenges have affected the budget more than the timeline.
The city of Coralville is contributing $250,000 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars toward the building campaign. Boller said this brings the total pledged or raised to $1.4 million out of a nearly $1.5 million final construction budget. The cost last October was $1.2 million.
Boller said community members are excited to support the campaign and help the food pantry better serve the community. He said the pantry is “currently bursting at the seams,” especially as it helps residents during high inflation and reductions in safety net supports, like food stamps.
“Our neighbors know that a larger and updated building will help us better serve and support this community for the long haul,” Boller said.
Boller said residents are excited about the pantry being able to do hot meals on-site once the building is finished and the church kitchen next door is renovated.
The goal is for the food pantry to be welcoming and engaging for everyone to enjoy, Boller said, as well as learn about edible plants, sustainable practices and native species.
The food pantry is working to have vegetable and herb garden beds, pollinator-friendly prairie and flower patches, and various native fruit and nut trees.
“We feel having a landscaping plan that is accessible, edible, sustainable, educational and beautiful fits in well with our mission,” Boller said.
The building is being designed by Neumann Monson Architects and built by Hodge Construction. Boller said if all goes as expected, construction could be finished by October.
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