Nancy Smith, manager of the Elvira food pantry, shows food available for Clinton County families in need. Located in the Elvira Zion Lutheran Church, the pantry recently received a $500 donation from the Low Moor Lions Club, which Smith said will provide meat products for the pantry.

Donations of non-perishable items keep food pantries running, but without money, perishable items can be in short supply.

Nancy Smith, who manages Elvira’s food pantry, is grateful for a recent $500 donation from Low Moor Lions.

“Five hundred dollars can buy us a lot of hamburger [and] hotdogs” Smith said. “We can get what we normally can’t get.”

“We have a fairly decent budget,” Smith said. A death in the congregation about a month ago resulted in a large bequest to the food pantry.

But not all meat donations to the pantry come in the form of money, Smith said. Often it’s a donation of food. “Somebody will donate half a beef or pork,” she said.

Non-perishable items come from donations, but the pantry also shops for canned and boxed items at River Bend Foodbank in Davenport when it needs to.

This year the food bank received so many donations during the Christmas season that it didn’t have to go to River Bend, Smith said. “People are very generous around here.”

In 2020, the food pantry bought 18,655 pounds of food from River Bend and received 2,338 pounds in donations, Smith said.

The food pantry is in the basement of Elvira Zion Lutheran Church, but it’s not affiliated with the church. Anyone can pick up food at the pantry.

About 15-20 families regularly visit, said Smith. “It’s all rural people.”

“We don’t serve Clinton or DeWitt because they’ve got their pantries. It’s just rural Clinton County,” Smith said.

“I have them sign a registration form, and it’s just their name and address and how many people are in the family,” said Smith. “They don’t have to answer any personal questions or anything.”

The pantry also has a backpack program and distributes 27 backpacks weekly to students at Northeast Community School District, Smith said.

Smith hasn’t seen an increase in visits due to the pandemic, she said, which surprises her.

The pantry is open one day a month, the second Tuesday, from 8 a.m. to noon. Feb. 9 is the next day the pantry is open.

The Lions raise money through annual fundraisers, including an omelet breakfast, golf tournaments, and through food truck sales at events such as the Davenport air show, said Low Moor Lions Club member Rich Smith, Nancy’s husband.

The Lions give money to the food pantry, to L’Arche, an organization to support people with intellectual disabilities, and to Lions KidSight USA Foundation, a program to safeguard the eye-sight of children, Rich Smith said.

The Lions give food baskets to shut-ins every December, and sent money this month to Brittany and Roman Dombrowski, who lost their Bryant home to a fire New Year’s Day.

The Andover Lions Club also gives to the food pantry, Rich said.

Winona Whitaker is the Clinton Herald’s associate editor.