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Salvation Army responds to growing demand with food and fellowship

Ed Pop Salvation Army Food Pantry Coorddinator has noticed that younger residence are moving to Newton for a fresh start, and he is happy to help them get back on their feet.
Ed Pop Salvation Army Food Pantry Coorddinator has noticed that younger residence are moving to Newton for a fresh start, and he is happy to help them get back on their feet.

Everyone runs into hard times, and some have it worse than others. It is always nice to receive help, and the Salvation Army has always provided a helping hand for those in need.

“We provided 2,536 food boxes last year,” Salvation Army’s Case Manager of Social Services Kelly Zach said. “A lot of those are return people that come back every month. It might be because their Social Security has decreased. Medicare has taken more out, (and) a lot our clients are older people. No one is denied services when they walk in our door.”

The food boxes are made up of a variety of different foods, including rice, juice and canned goods. Their food pantry is currently full, but that is not always the case. Usually they receive a rush once a month.

“Our busy weeks, we are seeing a lot (of people),” Zach said. “People get their food stamps in the first 10 days of the month.”

In order to restock their pantry, they travel to Des Moines.

“One a month we go to the food pantry in Des Moines,” Salvation Army Food Pantry Coordinator Ed Pop said.

The Salvation Army also has a bread line every Tuesday and Friday. About 80 to 85 people go through the line a week Pop said.

“I think last year, we purchased over 100,000 pounds of food from the food bank to distribute to our families here,” Zach said. “I thought that when Maytag left, the community was really going to see some hurt.

The Salvation Army is always willing to accept food, and noticed families struggling to get by because of rising food prices.

There are even families who have decent paying jobs, but because of the rising cost of health care, their paychecks mostly go to medical expenses.

Local businesses help out the army with various food donations. Hy-Vee and Wal-Mart donate food to Salvation Army, and Pizza Hut even donates left over pizza twice a week.

Sadly, many businesses that are ran by corporations cannot donate leftover food, because of liability reasons. Last year, author Dana Gunders wrote in her Natural Resources Defense Council issue paper, “40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten.”

Although some businesses cannot help, many local residence do.

“I see so much outpouring of donations ,” Zach said. “I know TPI last year had on Super Bowl Sunday, they had a soup drive. They had soup and crackers, and has a massive amount donated. The churches help out. They do the community meal every Wednesday, which is open free of charge to everybody at the Methodist church. They usually have about 125 people there on Wednesday nights.”

The Salvation Army not only helps with food but with other expenses as well

“Last year we helped about 100 families with mainly rent assistance,” Zach said. “We help up to $150 a calendar year for a family— if they need that. That is finical assistance that could either be electrical or gas, or a water bill. In our utility assistance (program) we helped probably 158 families last year with that.”

Holidays are a busy season for the Salvation Army. For Zach, no family should go without a meal, so they provide the main course for many families in Newton.

“We saw an increase in that in the past year,” Zach said.

When it comes to clothing, the Salvation Army has plenty but they are always happy to accept donations. They often give vouchers out to help those in need.

“We help with clothing, we can give a voucher out for clothing needs,” Zach said. “We see a lot of that going into the school year, and winter coats.”

School clothes and maternity clothes are items that are high in demand. Children can be expensive, and many parent who fall into hard times. Zach is saddened when she hears of parents stealing items from grocery stores for their children, but understands that the rising cost of items can be difficult for anyone.

Zach would like to remind residence that they can help supply various items needed for babies.

The Salvation Army also provides gas and medical assistance.

“We also do gasoline vouchers for out of town doctors visits,” Zach said. “We average about 20 of those a month.”

They do not help with pain medication, but with medication such as inhalers and medication for diabetics. They helped 38 people with inhalers last year.

Zach helps people in the program find jobs, she does this because they lost their workforce development program.

“We lost our workforce development center,” Zach said. “It’s so hard for people to find the resources. When Jimmy John’s opened up, we had the applications here for people to pick up. We are looking into joining ‘Pathways of Hope.’ The captains are working on that, and it’s going to be a program that we are hoping to be accepted into to that can do case management with 10 families — to try to get them self efficient.”

Other Salvation Army’s have used the program before, and have seen success.

They also provide spiritual services to the community as well. In their building, they have a church. Salvation Army Captain’s, Mikey and Jeff Carter, hold services and even provide prayer and religious counseling.

“We offer church services every Sunday, and bible study on Wednesday, Zach said.

They also have a quilt group of about 20 people that meets every Thursday. The group sells their quilts to help the community.

The Salvation Army often works with landlords to help residence in need of help, and Zach was happy that many land lords are happy to help.

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at

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