Food Bank Compassion Earns Lansing The ‘Nicest Place’ in Iowa Recognition

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LANSING, Iowa — In Lansing a group on people realized their community had a need, so they did something about it. They formed the Lansing Iowa Food Trust, or LIFT for short.

“Do you need a lift? We’re here to help you up,” said LIFT Board President Karen Galema. “Allamakee County is one of the poorest counties in the state and they wanted another food site open they invited people just threw out the idea.”

A group of people from different churches, often with differing opinions, formed the LIFT Board of Directors, and hammered out the gritty organization details any new non-profit goes through. In October of 2018 the group opened for business inside a boat warehouse. There is also a need for winter storage for boats on the Mississippi River. The Canadian Pacific Train with Christmas lights stopped in December, and helped raise food donations for LIFT.

The group has just marked it’s first year in operation, serving 30 some families in Allamakee County. The group got appreciation from people they served.

“She said she turned and gave her a big hug and said you don’t know wonderful this is, thank you so much,” Galema said recounting one volunteer’s story.

She added they all had stories of people expressing thanks. There was a man visiting his elderly father locally who didn’t have money to guy treats for his birthday party. LIFT helped him get some treats to share, and he was very appreciative.

As this first year was underway the Galema’s granddaughter nominated the organization for an award, as The Nicest Place in Iowa, a contest in all 50 states by Reader’s Digest.

“I got a call that was sounding kind of funny to be so I just blew it off, and hung up,” said Karen.

Reader’s Digest did call back that due to LIFT’s efforts Lansing Iowa was named Iowa’s Nicest Place, and the town and LIFT are a finalist to be named nicest place in America, that may be announced in November.

Gary and Karen Galema say the national recognition is nice, but they are motivated by the relationships they’ve built, and the people they have served. The couple understands the need for this, as years ago they were also in need of some help.

“My husband rolled the tractor over on himself, he wasn’t able to work for a year,” said Karen. When people have come in and said oh I hate to be here, I tell them I know what you’re going through, it’s so hard to ask for help.”

The Galema’s say they have a great board of directors which works hard to serve the community. LIFT now works with open hours each Wednesday evening from 4-7 pm. Families can come in every other week. LIFT is located at 220 S. 3rd St., in Lansing

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