IUMF Hunger Grant Spotlight: Carry On Bags | Iowa United Methodist Foundation

May 3, 2021

Carry on Bags was formed in 2014 by a pastor at First UMC in Fairfield along with several teachers in the local school district who recognized a need for supplemental food for many students over the weekends. This need evolved into the group putting together bags of basic food for students (pre-K through 12th grade) to take home on Fridays (so they could “carry on” outside of school). Since its inception, the program has provided up to 330 bags per week. When the Foundation visited in April, there were 180 students signed up to receive food.

Fairfield First United Methodist Church

The organization meets every other Monday to pack bags – usually with easy-to-prepare foods in case the students have to make the meals themselves. Different groups from the community volunteer throughout the year to pack bags, including high school students, families, banks, a radio station crew, 4-H club and other churches. The week we visited, Girl Scout Troop 9663 was there to help and give a donation. They packed each bag with a jar of peanut butter, a box of macaroni and cheese, a can of ravioli, applesauce, three granola bars and two oatmeal packets. It didn’t seem like much, but we were told for some kids, these bags are the only food they (or even their family) will have for the entire weekend.

One amazing thing about Carry on Bags is every dollar they receive from grants and donations goes to purchase food. Everyone who packs the bags, stores them and delivers them to the schools is a volunteer. The program has a partnership with the local Hy-Vee which allows them to get the food at a reduced price. During the pandemic, many teachers kindly stepped up and delivered bags to their students’ homes, which made some realize for the first time the living conditions in the community. One teacher returned from delivering bags to tell the volunteers she now understood the importance of this program.

The Foundation is proud to support organizations like Carry on Bags that do such important work striving to end hunger in Iowa. If you would like to donate or learn more about Carry on Bags, visit their website. You can see a full list of IUMF Hunger Grant recipients here, or if you want to learn more about investing with the Foundation, visit our website.