The Food Bank of Iowa teamed up with the Perry food bank, also known as New Opportunities, to bring a mobile food pantry to Perry on Saturday.

Karen Ventura, New Opportunities executive director, said about 100 families were served with the free food.

"Our volunteers are so wonderful," Ventura said. "We really couldn’t make these things happen without local support, including from Pastor Rick and the generous people here at Crossroads Church."

Rick Gates is the pastor of Crossroads, where New Opportunities has its offices and storehouse. Gates was surprised and pleased at the large turnout on a cold and snowy Saturday morning.

"I’m sorry there is such a big need for help because it means people are suffering," he said, "but I’m also glad that we can be here to at least partially meet that need."

The Food Bank of Iowa’s mobile pantry is a farmer’s-market style distribution method targeted at counties with a stark need for additional pantry service.

On the cold and snowy morning of the distribution, the Food Bank of Iowa delivered a truck loaded with a variety of grocery products to the mobile pantry site at New Opportunities.

The Perry food bank and its volunteers—it takes 15 to 20 volunteers to bring off the event—were responsible for unloading, setting up and distributing the food, as well as keeping track of the number of individuals and households being served.

Pantry patrons brought bags, carts and even laundry baskets to carry home their food.

"We were planning on helping a total of 100 families," Ventura said, "so we almost made it."

She said the goal of this event "is to aid families and also raise awareness that there is need, especially due to food stamp cuts."

Dallas County is one of eight counties in which the Food Bank of Iowa is partnering for the mobile pantry program.

"At New Opportunities we have committed, along with pastor Rick, to be here and do this for the rest of the year," Ventura said.

Funded by a $30,000 grant from global food giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), mobile pantries offer an added strategy for closing the hunger gap in rural counties in the Food Bank of Iowa’s 55-county service area.

The mobile pantry program will provide an additional access point for those in need of food assistance.

Ventura said the mobile food pantry will return to Perry again for a free food distribution day on May 3, July 5, Sept. 6 and Nov. 1.

To volunteer or to learn more about the program, call Ventura at 515-465-5185 or Gates at 515-465-5478.