The Mid Iowa Community Action (MICA) Family Development Office in Poweshiek County identifies three main sectors of poverty that the organization serves. Their poverty alleviation programs include a food pantry, emergency crisis help and family development ongoing programs. These programs work year-round to ensure community development and security but are strained at this time of the year.
MICA’s mission is “helping people, changing lives and building communities,” as well as to serve “[c]hildren and families affected by the conditions of poverty,” according to micaonline.org.
Donations from community members are extremely important to maintain the upkeep of the food pantry and the health of Poweshiek County inhabitants all year. Recently, the pantry has experienced shortages of food and is increasing awareness of their food supply programs.
“[The pantry] is run solely on donations,” said Danielle Wonderly, Director of MICA’s Poweshiek County office. “We’re really trying to push that right now, whether it be monetary or tangible food items.”
One of the main challenges for the food pantry is a shortage of donations consistently throughout the year. Although MICA receives many donations during the “holiday months,” according to Wonderly, they need donations during the other months as well.
Although not as substantial as during the winter months, donations are currently increasing from the summer numbers. However, the need still exceeds the donations. Challenges like these are inevitable with the nature of nonprofit organizations.
“There are always going to be issues,” she said. “It could be programming availability, funding availability or other things like that.”
MICA is also focusing on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) right now as winter approaches. A heating system assistance program, LIHEAP offers supplemental assistance to families through a one-time make-up payment to heating providers. LIHEAP can also provide a moratorium, ensuring that heat cannot get shut off during the winter. This program works to be as inclusive as possible, according to Wonderly.
“It can also be a credit, so even if you’re not currently struggling with your bill, you can get support,” she said. “We have back-to-back appointments because it is LIHEAP season … We have people coming in quite steadily.”
Awareness of the work MICA does is not limited to those who need the services. According to Wonderly, volunteering and advocating for the work MICA does is a great way to get involved.
“Even if you can’t donate something, we always appreciate when people talk about the work we do,” Wonderly said.
Learn more about volunteering and donating at www.micaonline.org.