Iowa Lakes news

As National Volunteer Appreciation Month unfolds, Northwest Iowa RSVP seeks to illuminate the primary focus areas emphasized by the program’s grant allocation strategy. “Food Pantry Support” is a cornerstone in the organization’s mission to support community welfare and combat food insecurity locally.

Food insecurity continues to be a growing concern nationwide. To alleviate this concern, RSVP volunteers age 55+ in our 5-county area of Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Kossuth, and Palo Alto, give generously of their time to help ensure food reaches those in need through volunteer opportunities with food deliveries, in food pantries, and with hot meals programs.

Food pantries in the region include Upper Des Moines Opportunity locations, food box pickup locations, multiple mobile food pantries, and pantries operated by various non-profit entities. Volunteering at a local food pantry can involve picking up and delivering food from local grocery stores to the food pantry, sorting and stocking shelves, or assisting with distributing food to individuals and families who visit the area food pantries or food box pickup spots. The time involved can be as little as one hour per month or as much time as the volunteer wants to share.

Volunteers support the mission with hot meal programs at area senior centers and entities like Grand Avenue Community Outreach (GACO) in Spencer. Volunteers help with set-up, serving, and clean-up for meals served Monday through Friday at area senior centers, including Lakes Area Activity Center in Spirit Lake, Occasions in Spencer, Algona Senior Center, or Estherville Senior Center Dinner Date. At GACO, volunteers help shop, prepare, serve, and clean up after bi-weekly meals. Flexibility for these opportunities means volunteers can select the number of days they wish to volunteer per month.

Meals on Wheels and other food delivery programs are another way RSVP volunteers get involved with providing food to those in need. Often, the volunteer who delivers a hot meal to area seniors is the only human contact that person might have during the week. One of the many rewards of volunteering to home-deliver meals is knowing the recipient will have a hot meal and someone to check on them.

Volunteers also provide food support by participating in a children’s backpack food distribution program, helping ensure that area students have nutritious food and snacks when they are home on the weekends. Other volunteers assist with area Hunger Coalition groups and Community Gardens or provide grocery shopping services for homebound seniors.

Ensuring food security for community members brings volunteers a sense of fulfillment, as they know they’ve contributed to supporting others during challenging times in a genuinely meaningful way.

For more information about volunteering in one of our food pantry support locations, please contact your Northwest Iowa RSVP Coordinator or click here to visit to complete an online registration form.