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Floyd County seeks to administer grant for increased regional food bank access

  • A crew from Wysan Precast Services of Hawley, Minnesota, installs precast cement panels at the Floyd County law enforcement center project on Wednesday morning. The panels were made by MPC Enterprises Inc. of Mount Pleasant. Press photos by Bob Steenson

  • A crew from Wysan Precast Services of Hawley, Minnesota, installs precast cement panels at the Floyd County law enforcement center project on Wednesday morning. The panels were made by MPC Enterprises Inc. of Mount Pleasant. Press photos by Bob Steenson

  • A crew from Wysan Precast Services of Hawley, Minnesota, installs precast cement panels at the Floyd County law enforcement center project on Wednesday morning. The panels were made by MPC Enterprises Inc. of Mount Pleasant. Press photos by Bob Steenson

  • A crew from Wysan Precast Services of Hawley, Minnesota, installs precast cement panels at the Floyd County law enforcement center project on Wednesday morning. The panels were made by MPC Enterprises Inc. of Mount Pleasant. Press photos by Bob Steenson

By Bob Steenson, bsteenson@charlescitypress.com

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank is seeking a $50,000 grant to help increase its ability to make food available to those who need it, and it is asking Floyd County to administer the grant.

The Floyd County Board of Supervisors approved a letter of application earlier this week to apply for a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Barb Prather, Northeast Iowa Food Bank executive director, explained that the grant would allow Floyd County to contract with the food bank for its mobile food bank operations for Charles City and other areas.

The only obligation on the part of the county would essentially be to pass the money through a couple of times at most from the state to the food bank, Prather said.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank, based in Waterloo, has sent its food trucks to Charles City three times in the past two months for food distributions, including the latest distribution that took place on Wednesday.

“The Food Bank has added additional distributions through their Mobile Food Pantry program to respond to the increased need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are continually monitoring the situation to add additional Mobile Pantries to various rural areas in their service area,” according to the application letter the supervisors approved sending to the state.

The Charles City food pantry, Messiah’s Food Pantry, is currently closed to the public because of concerns about coronavirus social distancing in the small space the pantry has available, although it continues to make food available by appointment and by delivery. Messiah’s Food Pantry is affiliated with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

Based on distributions in April, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank is predicting a 45% increase in the number of people served through the organization’s Mobile Food Pantry program.

Community Development Block Grants use federal money distributed to the states to fund economic development projects such as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs and infrastructure development.

“On behalf of the food bank, we appreciate you guys considering this, helping us with the process, because we’re here to help all of northeast Iowa, including Floyd County,” Prather said.

“Anything we can do, whether it’s providing backpacks to kids or through the mobile food distribution that we’ve been doing and will continue to do for awhile — we’re more than happy to do that. Our mission is to provide food and grocery products to non-profit organizations and individuals in northeast Iowa, but we can’t do it without community partnerships, and I look at this as a huge community partnership,” she said.

Also at the meeting this week, the supervisors continued discussing when and how the Floyd County courthouse will reopen to the public.

Members again said they didn’t feel any urgency in making those decisions, as services are still being made available to those people who need them, and many services are available online or deadlines and penalties have been removed by order of the governor.

Some of the discussion dealt with coordinating the courthouse opening and access with the resumption of in-person court proceedings, including jury trials.

In the past, some jury trials have called in 100 or more potential jurors who sit packed shoulder to shoulder in the district courtroom and the hall while the jury is being selected.

County Auditor Gloria Carr said she is continuing to work with Clerk of Court Julie Kneip to gather more information about potential timing and the access to the courthouse that will be required when court activities resume.

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