Carma Mohler Grant Spotlight | Iowa United Methodist Foundation

Iowa Falls First UMC Community Meal

December 20, 2022

The story of the Community Meal at the First UMC in Iowa Falls is one of transformation and inspiration. Weekly dinners began in 2010 as a way to feed the church’s youth group before they met on Wednesday evenings. In 2012, when members learned their church was in an impoverished area (as defined by the Iowa Census), the program transformed into a meal for anyone in Iowa Falls and the surrounding communities. The first year (September 2012 – May 2013 with a break in the summer), they served 2,890 meals. Last year (September 2021 – May 2022), they served a remarkable 12,951 meals. The program has grown to include deliveries, carry-out and dine-in options each week, and Program Director Lyn Evans told us they will serve over 15,000 meals this year.

The Foundation was inspired to award this program with a 2022 Carma Mohler Grant due to the growing number of people and families they help and the fact that they are able to offer this meal every week. Their application told us they often hear from people how the meal is their only hot meal for that week; or that the meal delivery is such a blessing for their elderly parents who cannot come in person. They also shared how volunteers and delivery drivers have made strong connections with their patrons through this program. For example, one driver brought pajamas to a patron the week after she noticed when he answered the door that his were wearing thin. They have made cross-church connections as well and have volunteers and bakers from several churches in the community. As stated in their application, every individual who is fed, whether by eating at the church, picking up a meal to take home or the homebound who have a meal delivered, “they experience a touch of God’s love in action in the food that is given to them as they interact with members of the church family.”

Supporting organizations like this, especially in a community where there is a need for over 400 meals each week, is so important. The Foundation was blessed to visit on December 14th, when the church was offering their Christmas meal. They served sliced ham, cheesy potatoes, green beans, fruit, a roll, a cookie and a drink to over 600 people in under three hours. It was incredible to witness the volunteers and drivers in action – how they switched gears from packaging delivery meals to setting up for dine-in meals, how everyone had a role (and knew it from years of volunteering) and how so many volunteers and patrons knew and cared for each other. It was a true example of beholding grant money in action, and IUMF is proud to support groups like these.

To donate to the Carma Mohler Grant fund, you can click the GIVE button from our homepage and specify “Carma Mohler” in the comment box next to “Friends of the Foundation.” If you’d like to donate directly to the Community Meal in Iowa Falls, reach out to Lyn at cookiemama43@gmail.com. You can learn more about the Carma Mohler program and see all this year’s grant recipients here.