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Iowa National Guard troops,members of the Manchester Rotary and church volunteers pose for a photo after distributing food earlier this month provided by the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank has delivered food to Manchester for years. The Waterloo agency has relied on local volunteers to make sure that food gets to those who need it.

Food Bank Executive Director Barbara Prather said the food bank’s monthly stop in Manchester serves a need.

“A lot of our product we were getting became more perishable. We knew there wasn’t the capacity at the agency level to handle that much. We also knew neither community pantry was open evenings or weekends. This was a way we could provide an additional support service to the community and help out.”

Prather said volunteers provided by New Life Assembly of God in Manchester, along with other local volunteers, are key to making sure the food gets to those who need it.

“Our role is to provide food and get it there,” she explained. “New Life’s role is to get the volunteers and distribute it.”

The mobile food pantry comes to the parking lot across from New Life the first Thursday of each month from 5-6:30 p.m.

Prather said her agency used to see an average of between 80-90 families receive food at the Manchester stop each month. She said the agency used their drivers and a pair of 24-foot straight trucks to make the delivery.

“That’s all changed in the last three months since the pandemic hit,” she said. “We have seen a drastic increase in the number of families we are serving through the program. It’s almost double from what we were doing prior to the pandemic.”

The agency now utilizes the Iowa National Guard to deliver the food to Manchester using two of their vehicles in addition to a third truck provided by the agency.

According to Prather, anyone needing food simply has to show up when the food is available for distribution. Distribution times and locations may be found at www.neiowafoodbank.org.

Those wishing to support the mission of the food bank may give a monetary donation online or by mailing payment to Box 2397 Waterloo, IA 50704. Prather said donations that come from Manchester will go back to help the Manchester community

“What we do in Manchester is really a partnership,” Prather said. “We have access to the food and New Life Assembly of God knows who is in need. They get the word out and provide the volunteers.”

She added, “I want to thank New Life for leading this and the Manchester community for providing a way to provide food back out to help people in their time of need.”