In November, the Community Transportation Committee received a grant from Iowa Workforce Development that allowed us to create the CTC COVID-19 Relief Bus Pass Program. This program was designed to assist job seekers affected by COVID-19 with transportation to job interviews or training at their new job. We have distributed bus passes to the following Johnson County organizations: Shelter House, Coralville Community Food Pantry, Inside Out Re-entry, and Domestic Violence Intervention Program. With this program, CTC hopes to help increase the chance of financial security for our community members. Accessible and affordable transportation is essential for anyone to maintain employment. Until the fares are free, CTC will continue to do our part in making transportation more affordable for Johnson County. John Boller, the Executive Director of the Coralville Community Food Pantry, provided CTC with insight into the intersection of food insecurity and lack of adequate transportation. To get involved with this organization, visit their website here: https://www.coralvillefoodpantry.org/
I want to give you space to tell us about the pantry, your mission, and anything you’d like about what you do day to day.
At the Coralville Community Food Pantry, we consider ourselves the primary food safety net for Coralville and Tiffin residents experiencing food insecurity. Our programming is aimed at ensuring that all of our neighbors get the food they need and deserve. Our primary work is our food assistance program, which provides a variety of groceries and nonfood personal care items, which people select themselves, each time they visit. For community members who lack the ability to get to our physical facility, we offer free weekly deliveries of groceries and nonfood personal care items.
What current transit issues affect the clients you serve?
A recent survey of our clients showed that nearly 50% of folks don't have a car. Of that group, most carpool, many walk, and some take the bus. Complaints we've heard about the transit system is that it's unreliable, takes too long to get places, and it's obviously difficult to haul 50-60 pounds of food with you.
How do you see food insecurity and transportation barriers intersect?
They are deeply interconnected! People who are struggling to afford food are also struggling with mobility issues. And oftentimes, lack of or limited transportation can keep many people from accessing vital community resources like food pantries.
What impacts do you foresee the CTC Covid 19 Bus Pass Relief Program having at the pantry?
It's amazing! We are grateful for the opportunity to distribute bus passes to our clients who rely on public transportation, or perhaps those who typically walk but would prefer to take the bus. For many, having access to public transit will allow folks to seek out and hopefully retain critical employment during these challenging times.
What is the most important thing to know about food insecurity?
It is a symptom of deeper inequalities and poverty. Until we have stronger anti-poverty policies in place such higher wages, affordable living options, and universal healthcare & childcare, food insecurity will always persist.
How can someone in the community get involved to help combat food insecurity?
We're always in need of volunteers to help on the frontlines at the pantry or to make home deliveries (another effective way to combat the transportation issue).