The Lord's Cupboard is holding its first community fundraiser, called the Hunger March, next month.
"We've been in existence since 1974, and been solely funded by personal donations and churches, which we have been blessed by and that's been great, but as time has gone on and with our economy, it is tough," Suzanne Schwendemann, director, said. "We are reaching out to community members and to businesses for the first time."
The First United Methodist Church ministry, which is the largest food pantry in Webster County, serves 60 to 100 households weekly, Schwendemann said.
"It fits the need for hunger insecurity in our community," she said. "The statewide average is 12.9 percent of our population is hunger insecure, and that term means, financially, people are having to make choices between buying food to put on the table and paying some other type of bill. In Webster County, we are at 15 percent. Sadly, we are higher that the state and national average here in our community."
The need is great in Fort Dodge, according to Schwendemann. In 2013, the pantry served 1,166 households, feeding 2,818 people.
"The national average, that is represented by one out of five children. It's close to one out of four children in our community," she said.
The Hunger March, Schwendemann said, will have a casual format for the first effort.
"We're looking for donations of any kind. It's five-eighths of a mile around the mall, so maybe $5 a lap or $8 a lap," she said. "Teams, you can build a team of 10 and walk as a team representing a business or an organization. We're out to build awareness and have some fun. And it's a healthy walk in the middle of this winter."
There are other ways the community can contribute to the Lord's Cupboard, Schwendemann said.
"We are always taking food donations of nonperishable items," she said. "We work off a list that I've compiled with the dietician at Hy-Vee. We try to do healthy goals. Canned things, pasta, peanut butter and jelly, sauce, soups. All those things you can always drop off here during business hours at the church location."
Schwendemann said she is excited about the Hunger March.
"I started in July of 2012, and I had three goals in mind: healthy choices for the clients, educating the clients toward self-sufficiency, and community involvement and awareness," she said. "Doing the walk and having these teams, reaching out to the business community for the first time, is really just as much about awareness as it is about the dollars raised."
Greater awareness, Schwendemann said, benefits the pantry's many clients.
"If we can get 25 teams of 10, if 250 people can tell 10 people about the Lord's Cupboard, and those people just give $5 each, the impact is huge," she said, "and we will have spread the word about our ministry."
The Lord's Cupboard Hunger March will be March 8 at 10 a.m., at the Crossroads Mall.
The Lord's Cupboard is located adjacent to First United Methodist Church at 127 N. 10th St. For more information, call 576-7586.