For many, the holiday season brings with it annual traditions that are unique for every family. No matter what the cause being celebrated, most often glad tidings include delicious food among loved ones.
The Crisis Center of Johnson County is helping area families celebrate the holidays with Project Holiday, an annual food distribution event. The Crisis Center teamed up with the Coralville Recreation Center and the North Liberty Community Food Pantry to distribute food throughout the week.
“Food is not just nourishing for our bodies, it’s also very tied up in how we celebrate and how we come together as human beings,” said Sarah Benson Witry, food bank and emergency assistance director at the Crisis Center Food Bank in Johnson County. “It’s very tied up in our emotions and well-being to be able to celebrate together with family or friends and share in a meal.”
The project is in its 26th year, and officials say over 1,700 families have registered this year to receive a meal package. Benson Witry said families can customize the meal they can take home, choosing between several options of meat, desserts, fresh produce, dairy and other kitchen ingredients “so the holiday meals they take home make sense for them.”
Each meal is worth roughly $20 for organizers to assemble, and Benson Witry said the center is still seeking monetary donations to help with the project.
This is the second year the Crisis Center has pick-up centers in Coralville and North Liberty to make it easier for families outside of Iowa City to get their holiday meal. The Coralville and North Liberty locations will only be open for pick-up on Wednesday, and the Crisis Center in Iowa City will be open select hours Tuesday through Friday.
Tina DuBois, executive director of the North Liberty Community Food Pantry, said she’s excited to be able to expand services for families throughout the county and with limited public transportation from Iowa City to North Liberty, bringing a holiday meal to their community is a huge help for them.
“Having it local in North Liberty means people can utilize their resources in other ways,” DuBois said.
The Crisis Center will offer holiday meals to anyone in need living in Johnson County. Benson Witry said those not registered but want a holiday meal can still go to the Johnson County Crisis Center’s office in Iowa City. Those interested in volunteering at a distribution center can find more information at jccrisiscenter.org
Project Holiday Distribution Times and Locations:
The Crisis Center
Tuesday, Dec. 17: 12 – 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec 18: 12 – 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, Dec 19: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 20: 12 -4:30 p.m.
North Liberty Community Pantry
Wednesday, Dec. 18: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Coralville Recreation Center
Wednesday, Dec 18: 2-7p.m.