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Vikings Table, Winnebago Industries Foundation and Northeast Iowa Food Bank plan Charles City event to help fight hunger

Vikings Table, Winnebago Industries Foundation and Northeast Iowa Food Bank plan Charles City event to help fight hunger
The Vikings Table food truck was built in collaboration with Winnebago Industries’ Specialty Vehicle Division and is used to distribute meals to the hungry in the Twin Cities area. Although Vikings Table will distribute meals at four sites in north Iowa this month, the food truck will not be coming because of COVID-19 concerns, the Vikings Foundation announced. (Submitted photo)
By Bob Steenson,

The Winnebago Industries Foundation and the Minnesota Vikings Foundation are working together to provide meals to children in North Iowa this summer through the Vikings Table food truck program.

And this month the groups will join with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank to create a Charles City event where people can pick up meals for immediate consumption, as well as groceries for later on.

The Food Bank will hold one of its “pop-up pantry” mobile food distributions from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Charles City High School parking lot.

Vikings Table will also have ready-to-eat meals available there at the same time, although the specially outfitted Vikings Table Winnebago will not be at the site.

“The Vikings Table food truck itself won’t be able to make an appearance in Iowa communities, due to COVID-19,” said Brett Taber, Minnesota Vikings Foundation executive director.

The Winnebago foundation and the Vikings foundation are partnering with North Iowa school districts and food banks to feed families in the Iowa communities where Winnebago Industries has manufacturing locations – Charles City, Forest City, Lake Mills and Waverly.

Sam Jefson, public relations specialist at Winnebago Industries in Forest City, told the Press that meals provided by the Vikings Table are a boxed lunch and will typically include a turkey sandwich, apple and a side of carrots.

Jefson said they are planning for about 400 meals.

In 2019, the Minnesota Vikings Foundation rolled out Vikings Table, a custom-built food truck designed and produced by Winnebago Industries Specialty Vehicles, to be used to distribute healthy meals to youth dealing with food insecurity, primarily in the Twin Cities.

In March, as pandemic-related closures took hold, Vikings Table started delivering individually packaged meals to youth and families each weekday, providing the dual benefit of food assistance as well as employment for recently laid-off restaurant workers.

The partnership with the Minnesota Vikings Foundation uses Winnebago Industries’ capabilities to mobilize resources to reach people in times of need, while addressing heightened food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Katy Friesz, Winnebago Industries Foundation executive director.

“We strive to partner with nonprofit organizations to advance three important social impact priorities: outdoors, access and community,” Friesz said.

In addition to the Aug. 19 distribution in Charles City, Vikings Table meals will be served on these dates:

• July 29 – Forest City, Forest City Community School District summer meal program.
• Aug. 6 – Lake Mills, Lake Mills Salem Church Summer Meal Program.
• Aug. 11 – Waverly, Waverly Mobile Pantry.

The Food Bank of Northeast Iowa distribution on Aug. 19 will be the sixth mobile distribution held since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The Messiah’s Food Pantry in Charles City was closed to walk-in distribution because of lack of space in the pantry site at the rear of Jordan River Church on Main Street. Distributions are still being made by Messiah’s Pantry by appointment and delivery.

The Rev. Debra Lincoln, who directs Messiah’s Food Pantry, said the usual guidelines will apply for the Aug. 19 distribution at the high school:

• Line up along Salisbury Avenue, entering either from Clark Street or 1st Avenue.
• No more than two households per car.
• Must have picture ID with you.
• Pull up at the end of the line.
• Have your trunk or rear door opened and space cleared to receive food boxes.
• Please practice patience and kindness to the volunteers, who are there to help.

“(Floyd) County is off of emergency status so you must qualify by government standard of poverty” to receive food from the Food Bank, Lincoln said. “You will be asked during check-in.”

Delivery is set up for the elderly and the sick and can be arranged by calling Lincoln at 641-257-1119, but the person must be home to receive the delivery.