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‘Food with Love’ addressing food insecurity with restaurant, non-profit partnerships

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St. Burch staff making a Food with Love delivery

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) -- A new partnership aimed at feeding Iowans in need has started in Johnson County that's reflective of its name, Food with Love.

It's a partnership between Iowa City restaurants, local non-profits, the Community Foundation of Johnson County, area food agencies such as Table to Table, and even the city of Iowa City.

The partners are able to deliver hot meals from four participating restaurants to local non-profits at no cost thanks to donations that have come in through the Community Foundation.

It's a unique partnership. So far, St. Burch Tavern, Pullman Bar and Diner, Deluxe Iowa, and Big Grove have all teamed up. Each restaurant takes turns cooking at least 100 meals twice a week to send off to places such as the Shelter House and the Domestic Violence Intervention Program.

John Maske, Chef De Cuisine at St. Burch said he's happy to give back to his community.

"Today was turkey sandwiches with an apple and a little bag of chips. We did 209 of them," said Maske, "There are people that are hungry and we have the time and the resources through the generosity of some really awesome people."

Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Johnson County, Shelly Maharry said the emergency food relief program was turned into a charity and the donations make it possible.

"So far we've raised $48,000 and all those dollars go directly to provide for the food that's being produced, so the meals can go out at cost," said Maharry.

There's no profit for the restaurants but they still say it's a win, win.

"We all live here we're all from around here. And, you know, we see people and we know people that are in need as well," said Maske.

Emily Meister, a food rescue program manager with Table to Table said the partnership also takes pressure off of area food agencies that provide free meals and may be struggling to switch to to-go style meals.

"Everyone's experiencing volunteer shortages because I mean at pretty much every nonprofit in the area you have a good portion of your volunteers who are in that high-risk group," said Meister, "So what this does is you know if you have less volunteers and it takes more time to prepare the meal there's going to be a big problem there. So this is really solving part of that."

The partners ran with the idea after LaTasha DeLoach with the City of Iowa City said they were approached by two people in the restaurant industry.

"This is just Nate Kaeding and Jamie Powers, wanting to help restaurants stay busy as well as wanting to get people in our community fed," said DeLoach.

DeLoach has taken on the role of coordinating the delivery schedule with the restaurants and non-profits. Food With Love had a 'soft opening' last week and so far, she estimates they've delivered more than 450 meals.

"The name of the program is Food with Love because it's this is them, This is a gift of love to our community that they love our area, and they want to see folks fed," said DeLoach.

Today's meals went to the Free and Reduced Meal Program, Shelter House's two locations, and the Domestic Violence Intervention Program.

The Food with Love program received a $10,000 check from Green State Credit Union today.

'Food with Love' a new partnership is popping up in Iowa city. Details tonight.

Posted by KWWL on Tuesday, April 14, 2020

DeLoach said they plan to keep the program running for several weeks through the closure. If any funds are leftover the money will be donated to Table to Table, to fight food insecurity.

All donations to the Community Foundation of Johnson County are tax-deductible.

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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