Community sustains local food pantry

The Clear Lake/Ventura Food Pantry is ready to help. -Reporter photo.

by Marianne Gasaway

While some areas of the country may be struggling with food insecurity, the generosity of the Clear Lake community is keeping the Clear Lake/Ventura Food Pantry strong.

“Our shelves are not bare.  This community has been very generous and supports our efforts and we have continued to grow over our six years,” said Donna Etchen, who serves on the board of directors for the group.

The idea of providing a food pantry to the community was hatched at Clear Lake’s United Methodist Church.  According to Etchen, leadership was brainstorming about ways the church could reach beyond its walls to help the community.  

“Bobbi Bendickson ran with the idea at Lent and the church provided the space.  It continued to grow from there and hasn’t stopped.”  

The food pantry continues to operate out of the Methodist Church at 508 2nd Ave. N., however it is not church affiliated.  It follows the low-income guidelines of the Food Bank of Iowa and is open to any Clear Lake or Ventura resident.  Since March 2020, food distribution is being done using a drive-through service.  The prepared boxes contain a good assortment of canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, boxed cereal and more.  

The food pantry uses donations to purchase items from the Food Bank of Iowa, where they can buy more for less, Etchen explained. However each month only certain items are available.  Etchen said St. Patrick’s Catholic Church makes a monthly donation to the food pantry and other individuals give regularly.  “We even had a donor who gave money so we could purchase milk at a local grocery store.  We gave out vouchers to those who wanted to pick that up.”

A number of local businesses and churches have stepped in to also help supply the pantry.  Kum and Go and Kwik Star both donate extra product and local grocery stores allow the pantry to purchase at a 

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The Clear Lake/Ventura Food Pantry, 508 2nd Ave. N., distributes food using a drive-thru every Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m.  

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