Dubuque homeless shelter rolls out food truck to combat food insecurity

For now, the Kindness Café will be operating out of Crystal Lake Cave on the weekends.
For now, the Kindness Café will be operating out of Crystal Lake Cave on the weekends.
Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 4:28 AM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Amy Gerhard currently works as the case manager of the Dubuque Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter for men located in downtown Dubuque. She helps the residents out with things like social security and food stamps.

As case manager, Gerhard said she has noticed how the COVID-19 pandemic opened the non-profit’s eyes to a reality in town.

”During the pandemic we learned a few things,” she mentioned. “That the Mission is kind of a ways from underserved neighborhoods, so for people to be able to walk to us or ride their bikes, it is about 20 blocks.”

Gerhard also added the pandemic has highlighted food insecurity as a big issue in Dubuque.

”It hits all tax brackets, so there are many, many people who will not come to the Mission or will not come through our doors and ask for help, but this time they are finding they need the help,” she said.

That is why the Rescue Mission opened the Kindness Café, a food truck where every two dollars spent on food buys a free meal for families in need. For now, though, they are only selling food while they figure out scheduling and staffing. However, Rick Mihm, the Mission’s executive director, said they hope to have the truck out giving out free food in the community by fall.

”We only have one person of our kitchen staff that is certified as a food manager, so that is a higher level than just food handling,” Mihm explained. “So you have to have one of those people on board all the time, so we are in the process of getting four additional people certified for that.”

Some of the men working on the food truck currently live at the Rescue Mission. Gerhard said she likes to prep them for life after the Mission, so they learn things like using a cash register, cooking meals, and customer services skills.

The Kindness Café is currently operating on the weekends out of Crystal Lake Cave thanks to a partnership between the administration there and the non-profit.

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