News & Events
Ribbon Cutting - April 23, 2021
The Lord’s Cupboard Community Food Pantry celebrated the completion of its renovated building with a ribbon cutting on April 23, 2021. Over 40 people attended the ribbon cutting event including Pantry board members, volunteers and clients; and many community members. The $250,000 renovation project included moving the food pantry from the basement up to the ground floor level of the building that is located at 127 North 10th Street in Fort Dodge. The Lord’s Cupboard Community Food Pantry’s renovated building is now handicap accessible and offers enhanced efficiency for food distribution. The Pantry is designed to accommodate increased hours of service to meet the needs of its growing clientele.
Under construction - November 19, 2020
A project that will allow Webster County’s largest food pantry to better serve its clients is underway.
The Lord’s Cupboard is being moved upstairs to street level from the basement of the First United Methodist Church office. Once the transition is complete, clients with mobility issues will have easier access to services.
Kolacia Construction, of Fort Dodge, had workers at the office on Wednesday. That firm is the general contractor for the project.
The workers were on the inside of the building where they will be remodeling the space to make it ADA accessible. Before Kolacia began their work, Site Services, of Algona, was hired for asbestos removal.
Included in the remodel will be a new handicap accessible entrance, handicap accessible restrooms and electrical work. A new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system will also be installed. The estimated cost of the project is between $250,000 and $300,000.
Joni Ham-Olson, director of the Lord’s Cupboard, said the location of the cupboard has been the biggest deterrent to helping people who need it.
“The most important thing is we will be on street level,” she said. “They (Kolacia) have started on an ADA compliant ramp entrance. It will be handicap accessible. Inside, all the doorways and everything is ADA compliant. We will have a handicap accessible restroom — no stairs.
“That’s the main reason that we aren’t able to serve some people in Webster County. We try our best if someone is not able to come downstairs. We can certainly bring something up to them. We do that on about a daily basis, but it’s harder to serve our clients.”
And Ham-Olson said within the past year, the cupboard has had no shortage of clients. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected families and their means to eat well, she said.
“There hasn’t been a month since we started this in March where we haven’t had dozens of new clients,” Ham-Olson said.
In September, the Lord’s Cupboard sent food out to 1,076 people.
“September was our largest month,” Ham-Olson said. “In September we saw 61 new households that had never been to the cupboard before. COVID-19 has been an ongoing thing. We were busy to begin with, but with people being laid off from their jobs and kids being home from school, we have definitely been affected by it.”
The virus has forced the cupboard to change its methods for getting clients their groceries.
Prior to the pandemic, clients could fill out a list and essentially shop for the items they wanted.
Now the grocery items are prebagged for each client.
“We just went through the grocery list and picked out the items that were the most popular with our clients and that’s what we prebag according to family size,” Ham-Olson said. “We still have the basics. They are getting fresh produce when we have it available. Eggs, butter, milk, cheese, bread – the perishable items. And also canned fruits and vegetables, soups..”
Prior to the pandemic, Ham-Olson said about 20 households would be seen in a two-hour shift.
“Now by prebagging the groceries and having people come in one at a time, we can see 40 people or more,” she said.
Forty-nine is highest number of households served in the two-hour time frame.
The cupboard typically gets its food from the Iowa Food Bank. But Ham-Olson said they have been impacted also.
“They did not have the same amount of food donated, so it was harder for us to get items we needed,” she said. “We ended up buying more locally, which costs more.”
The Lord’s Cupboard continues to accept donations toward its remodeling project and food purchases.
“It’s not just the construction, but we are needing more refrigerator freezers, coolers, tables, shelving, chairs and carts,” Ham-Olson said. “All the furniture and fixtures. Most of the shelving currently in use is built-in, so it’s not reusable. We will be having to purchase all new there.”
Ham-Olson said First United Methodist Church has been very supportive of the Lord’s Cupboard.
“They were very receptive to the idea (moving upstairs),” Ham-Olson said. “Essentially, it’s a covenant from the church. It’s a gift to us. They provide us with janitorial services, they provide us with overhead, electricity, secretarial services. Quite a substantial gift. We have received some awesome gifts from a lot of the churches in Webster County. I don’t want to discount any church in the county.”
The anticipated completion date for the remodel is Feb. 1. Construction is not interfering with the operations of the Lord’s Cupboard.
To donate, visit the Lord’s Cupboard Facebook page or Amazon. Both websites have links to donate directly to the Lord’s Cupboard. People can also drop off donations at the Faith United Methodist Church office, which is open Monday through Friday.
Remodeling will help The Lord’s Cupboard serve people - November 24, 2020
Iowa may well be the food-producing capital of the United States, but even here there are always people who need help to put nutritious meals on the table.
For decades, The Lord’s Cupboard in Fort Dodge has been the key source of support for those folks in the area. It supplies eggs, butter, milk, cheese, bread, canned fruits and vegetables, soups and other food.
As a result of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, The Lord’s Cupboard is busier than ever. Joni Ham-Olson, the food pantry’s director, reported that 61 families that had never had to rely on it before came to the The Lord’s Cupbaord in September.
In the midst of all the increased activtity, the food pantry is now undergoing a much needed renovation. It has been located in the basement of the First United Methodist Church’s office building on North 10th Street. When renovations now underway are done, it will be located on the street level of the building. The move will be key to better serving the disabled who cannot get down the stairs.
The project also includes electrical upgrades and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
The whole effort is estimated to cost between $250,000 and $300,000.
Along with the renovation, the pantry is needing some new shelves, refrigerators and freezers.
The rest of us can help with all of these needs by making even a small donation to The Lord’s Cupboard.
To donate, visit the pantry’s Facebook page. Donations can also be dropped off at the First United Methodist Church office.
A little financial help from everyone who can provide it will ensure that this valuable resource is available for our neighbors who worry about where their next meal will come from.
Movin’ on up - February 15, 2021
Webster County’s largest food pantry has a new home — just up a flight of stairs from its old home in the basement of the First United Methodist Church office building at 127 N. 10th St.
It took over a year, but the major remodel of the main floor of the office building is now complete.
“We are not handicap accessible,” Lord’s Cupboard Director Joni Ham-Olson told The Messenger in December 2019. “We have a lot of volunteers and clients who cannot come down the stairs. We want to remodel and make it handicap accessible.”
Since its founding in 1974, the Lord’s Cupboard has always been located in some sort of basement. It started in what was essentially a closet in the basement of the church. The food pantry moved to its most recent home in 1987.
Ham-Olson said that in recent years, it’s become more and more clear that the basement location was not ideal for the food pantry.
“It’s been a topic of conversation for a number of years,” Ham-Olson said. “The stairs were the big hurdle — it was a hurdle for our clients and it was a hurdle for our volunteers.”
She said that the food pantry always tried to be accommodating to clients who couldn’t come down the stairs. A volunteer would bring their food up to them, but that wasn’t necessarily sustainable.
Ham-Olson said she explored putting in an elevator or a ramp system and even looked into moving to a whole new building altogether. Instead, the church decided to gift two-thirds of the main floor of the office building to the Lord’s Cupboard.
Once the leadership at First United approved a remodel plan for the main floor, Ham-Olson got started on fundraising for the project, which was expected to cost about $250,000.
An anonymous donor eventually reached out through First Presbyterian Church, offering to match $100,000 in donations to the project.
Over the next three months, Kolacia Construction worked on the remodel. COVID-19 did cause some delays in the project, Ham-Olson said, but the remodel was finished earlier this month. Tuesday will be the first day the food pantry will be open in its new location.
The remodel included a new waiting area for clients, several storage closets, a large main pantry room and handicap-accessible bathrooms.
On Friday, volunteers from local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops helped move hundreds of pounds of food donations from the basement of the building up to the main floor to the new food pantry.
The Lord’s Cupboard serves about 300 households each month, Ham-Olson said. Much of the food the pantry gives out comes from the Food Bank of Iowa. The pantry also relies on donations from local organizations, individuals and businesses. Target and Fareway typically donate food from their shelves each week, she said.
The Lord’s Cupboard also offers personal hygiene products and other household necessities, like soap, for its clients.
“We’re not a grocery store; we’re a rescue pantry,” Ham-Olson said. “We try and provide a lot of things and we’re a nonprofit, so everything that goes out of here was either donated or purchased with donated money.”
The Lord’s Cupboard will host a joint worship service on April 25 with several churches in Fort Dodge. The service will be outdoors near the food pantry site and there will be an open house of the new space after the service.
The Lord's Cupboard announces the appointment of a new Executive Director, Melanie Fierke
The Lord's Cupboard Community Pantry of Fort Dodge is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Executive Director Melanie Fierke. Ms. Fierke started on September 20, 2021. Melanie replaces Joni Ham-Olson who retired.
Fierke comes to The Lord's Cupboard Community Pantry from the Fort Dodge Community School District where she worked with special needs students. She has administrative and human resource experience in the non-profit sector and has served in sales and marketing roles for high tech start-up companies.
"I am excited to be part of The Lord's Cupboard Community Pantry and to work with this wonderful volunteer led organization. The Lord’s Cupboard Community Pantry plays a key role in improving the quality of life for people in Fort Dodge and Webster County by helping the food insecure."
Melanie and her family moved to Fort Dodge 15 years ago, and she have been active in community volunteer efforts including serving on the Linking Families and Communities Board of Directors, Safety Village, Holy Trinity Parish and numerous youth-oriented activities. Her and her husband David have four children.
The Lord's Cupboard Community Pantry is a faith based, ecumenical organization supported by local churches, business and the Fort Dodge and Webster County Community. We provide emergency food assistance to individuals and families in the Fort Dodge and Webster County Area.