A non-profit organization that puts fresh produce on the tables of food insecure Iowans is carrying on the legacy of its late founder.
When Sonia Kendrick died in March, it wasn’t clear what the future of Feed Iowa First would look like without her. But the volunteer-run organization in Eastern Iowa has seen an outpouring of public support since then.
Board member Eric Wullner said the organization has no plans of slowing down.
“We have grown our produce donations to local pantries by 20 percent each year. And even though we’ve had a death of our founder, we have 21 committed sites on board," Wullner said. "We are actively growing, and of course would like to expand our operation in Sonia’s memory.”
Feed Iowa First partners with area churches, businesses and community groups to turn open spaces into productive urban gardens.
Lynette Richards has been involved in the organization since Kendrick founded it in 2011. Now a member of the board of directors, Richards said the community need is still there.
“When we all have good jobs and a safe place to live, it’s easy to forget that 26,000 people in Linn County go to bed hungry every night,” she said.
According to a 2016 analysis from Iowa State University, more than 389,000 Iowans experience food security statewide, including more than 139,000 children.
After an unseasonably long winter, the group’s volunteer farmers are rushing to get everything planted. But even at a difficult time, board members say they’re on track to meet their produce donation goals.
In order to continue its work, the organization is now applying for grant funding and starting the search for an interim director.