BRITT | The Britt Area Food Bank has been feeding the hungry since 1986. 

"We serve the whole county, not just Britt and Kanawha," said director Bill Friedow.

The number of clients decreased about four of five years ago, and the number has remained steady at around 70 families per month ever since, according to Friedow.

However, "it's not uncommon to have a new family every week," he said,

This is because some people use the food bank temporarily if they lose their job or have just moved to town.  

The food bank is open every Monday, but clients can only come in once a month.

More people use the food bank during the summer because those who qualify for free or reduced school lunches now must provide more meals for their children, according to Friedow. 

Sixty percent of the items at the Britt Food Bank come from the Food Bank of Iowa, which serves 55 counties. 

The Food Bank of Iowa's warehouse in Des Moines is being renovated, which means a temporary loss of storage space for them, according to Friedow.

This means they haven't been able to ship as much food to the Britt Area Food Bank and other food pantries they serve recently.

The public is aware of the need for more local support and has provided it.

"We are pretty fortunate in the amount of people willing to donate," said volunteer Ron Hansen. 

Businesses, schools, churches and other organizations help the food bank.

Most churches in the community have a box where people can put non-perishable items for the food bank, according to Friedow.

Others prefer to donate money. Friedow said some individuals write a check for the food bank every month. 

Local grocery stores allow the food bank to buy items at reduced prices.

All of this "helps keep our shelves full most of the time," Friedow said. 

The food bank gives vouchers to clients so they buy milk and bread at the Britt Food Center. The vouchers are good for those items only.

The food bank receives fresh produce in season from local growers. The community garden in Britt also provides vegetables 

Mike Koopman, who lives on an acreage near Kanawha and has large vegetable gardens, puts his produce on a bench on the side of the road.

People pay for the produce on the "honor system" by placing money in a container, Friedow said.

Every year, Koopman comes to the food bank and "plops a wad of cash" from the produce sales on the counter, Friedow said. 

This month the Food Bank of Iowa prepared Christmas boxes for clients at the Britt Area Food Bank.

Friedow said the boxes contain "a little bit of everything," including peanut butter, pasta, and canned chicken and tuna.

Each client also received a five-pound bag of potatoes in addition to what they would normally get for the month.

At Thanksgiving the Britt Area Food Bank purchased turkeys for clients. Hams were distributed at Easter. 

There's no shortage of volunteers at the food bank, according to Friedow.

Eight churches send volunteers to help at the food bank on Mondays.

A new church will be providing helpers after the first of the year, which means each church will only have to send volunteers once every two months.

No one at the food bank, including Friedow, are paid for their work. 

Volunteer Irene Howlett said she enjoys it because "it gives you a good feeling to help out a worthy cause."

"It's kind of fun," Friedow added. 

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