Need help? Local resources for hard times

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Two trucks from Northeast Iowa Food Bank delivered food and grocery supplies to Guttenberg earlier this spring. St. John's Lutheran Church hosts the mobile food pantry on the third Monday of each month from 5 - 6:30 p.m. The event is currently drive-thru only with volunteers loading food directly into clients' vehicles. (Press photo by Shelia Tomkins)

By Caroline Rosacker

The coronavirus has caused a tremendous amount of global hardship. Most obvious is the ever-climbing number of deaths caused by this complicated, baffling pathogen. The number of positive cases, hospitalizations, those recovered and individuals who have lost their lives are reported on a daily basis. Statistics that show an increase in addiction, mental illness, domestic abuse, food insecurity, job and home loss, and declining educational opportunities for at-risk school-age children are equally important, but the focus remains on the infection and death rate. 

Family Resource Center

The Guttenberg Municipal Hospital and Clinics (GMHC) Family Resource Center (FRC) is available to those individuals who are experiencing hardship brought on by the pandemic. Family Resource Center, located at 514 S. River Park Drive in Guttenberg, provides a space for numerous agencies and groups to collaborate resources to meet the needs of the communities they serve. The organization focuses on health and wellness, safety, food insecurity, transportation, housing, mental health and substance abuse. Family Resource Center also offers a variety of programs designed to protect and support children and at-risk individuals and build upon family strengths. All services are voluntary and confidential.   

St. John's Lutheran Church Mobile food bank

St. John's Lutheran Church hosts the Northeast Iowa Food Bank mobile food pantry on the third Monday of each month from 5 - 6:30 p.m. "Because of the pandemic, the mobile pantry is currently a drive-through event with volunteers loading food directly into client's vehicles," said a spokeswoman. "To receive food, clients must show a driver's license or current identification and be TEFAP eligible. Income guidelines for TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) are available at the Family Resource Center or by calling St. John's office at 563-252-2355. 

Family Resource Center Food Pantry

The Family Resource Center food pantry has served countless people since its inception in 2019. The food pantry is available Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. - noon, or by appointment. The Resource Center's food pantry is a safety net during the month for families that either missed the mobile food pantry, or need additional food to feed their families.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank, located in Waterloo, supplies the grocery items for the resource center. Kari Harbaugh, GMHC Family Resource Center Coordinator commented, "The organizers of the food bank in Waterloo were so happy to hear from us! They said Clayton County had been on their radar for a long time."

"Our clients are given a list of available groceries. They can circle the food items on the list that they need and will eat," she explained. "For example, we can assist an elderly person who may have special dietary needs, and can provide that individual with their dietary requirements at no cost. This is quite helpful to those living on a fixed income. We also have gently-used clothing and hygiene products available to those in need," she added. 

Support groups

Currently the Grief Support and Cancer Support groups are being held on a month-to-month basis. Harbaugh noted, "We are following Public Health and the hospital guidelines, which are continually changing. It is best to call us and check if the group is meeting for each month." 


"Local AA meetings are on hold, but Al-Anon continues to meet each Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the lower level of the Municipal Building in Guttenberg, assisting those who have lived with or are living with or loving someone suffering from the disease of addiction," said a spokesperson for the group. 

Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP)

The SHIIP program, a service of the State of Iowa, and its volunteers provide free-of-charge counseling and information to people with questions about Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance, long-term care insurance, and other health insurance. To schedule an appointment for this free service, call 563-252-3215.

Child Care Respite Program

The Child Care Respite Program is designed to assist families that are experiencing a crisis and in need of short-term childcare. Family Resource Center partners with local registered or licensed child care providers to assist families in need of childcare that are experiencing person crisis. 

Addressing crisis situations

Covid-19 has caused an increase in crisis intervention and prevention. Now more than ever, communities must band together to ensure their most vulnerable populations do not slip through the cracks. In-place programs that address needs before they become a crisis is crucial. 

"We do not have available funding to keep throwing money at crisis situations. Right now legal aid resources are available because of Covid-19. Our programs work when our clients cooperate, and we can come up with a sustainable plan," stressed Harbaugh. "There has to be transparency. We have to know the whole picture so we know what resources to apply for. We are here to help you help yourself."   

Emergency housing

Cooler outdoor temperatures increase the need for immediate housing. Agencies have funds available to pay for a night in a hotel, but the goal is for more sustainable housing. "Housing needs are on a priority basis. Victims of domestic abuse go right to the top,” Harbaugh continued. “Once you are in a homeless shelter you will get rapid re-housing assistance, but you have to be willing to cooperate with the plan. Once the plan is in place you have to be able sustain it. Again, we are assisting you to help yourself.”

“Coordinated entries, when an individual is living in a car or uninhabitable place are on the rise,” Harbaugh noted. “We used to have this issue once a quarter. Now we are experiencing them once a monthly. Unfortunately mental health and substance abuse all go hand in hand.”

For additional information call Family Resource Center at 563-252-3215 or 563-880-8461.

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