DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Urban Bicycle Food Ministry says 12 percent of Iowans qualify as being hungry every night. That is why their mission is to serve dinner to every person in need one night a week.
It all started with 25 burritos and a bike. Joe Lazlo started this organization in 2015, and now, four years later, 50 to 80 volunteers hand-deliver around 700 burritos, 250 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and 150 turkey sandwiches to those in need every Thursday night.
“What makes it extremely unique is that we create relationships, so we know where the homeless camps are, we know where those who have food insufficiencies are, and they expect us every Thursday night,” Urban Bicycle Food Ministry Board Member Jay Willsher said.
Volunteers leave from Des Moines Street and spread out across the city on eight different routes. They prepare everything in just over an hour, and then spend about three hours delivering the food as well as clothing and blankets.
The volunteers become very close with those they are serving each and every week.
“Somebody may share 'hey, I have so and so on this route that wears a size 10 and really needs boots, if anybody can bring some boots next week'… and we do! That makes it very special,” Jay Willsher said.
Jay Willsher said those three to four hours on Thursday nights are hard work but extremely refreshing.
“Some nights when you go home and it’s really cold out and you’ve served somebody that is in a tent, it’s pretty thought-provoking and it really makes you feel grateful. But, it’s nice to serve those that really need it and they are appreciative,” Jay Willsher said.
You can find out more information on their Facebook page Urban Bicycle Food Ministry - Des Moines. Or you can show up at the Capitol Hill Lutheran Church at 5 P.M. Thursday, they are having a small celebration for their 4th anniversary.