Johnson County aides nonprofits and residents with emergency fund grants

Applications are now open to nonprofit organizations and residents for grants from the General Assistance Program. The grants are for nonprofit organizations that need assistance funding and developing their organizations.


Grace Kreber

The Coralville food pantry is seen on Sunday, Nov. 7. 2021.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

John Boller, executive director of Coralville Community Food Pantry, saw a lack in access to food for city residents last year during the beginning of the pandemic. With grant funding, he launched a food delivery program. 

Boller is one of many who have applied for funding through Johnson County’s General Assistance Program, and the county is reopening its applications to give emergency funds and poverty grants to nonprofit organizations and residents. The funds will help build various programs in the county.

The county has a fund of $160,000 that will be distributed until it runs out from Jan. 1 to June 30. Applications are due Nov. 22, and the grant funding comes from countywide property taxes. 

Johnson County Social Services Director Lynette Jacoby said the county has offered these funds to organizations for at least five years. The county has been seeking applicants since the end of October. 

“Emergency funds tend to be a one-time opportunity for our agencies,” she said. 

An increase in emergency funding was needed in the last year and a half because of COVID-19. Jacoby said last year, the funding was prioritized towards going to COVID-19 related expenses.

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Boller said with the help of the grant funds, his home food delivery service strengthens food assistance programs and access in the community by bringing food to households that can’t visit food pantries. 

The emergency fund grants helped grow and sustain the delivery and transportation services for the past 18-19 months. Specifically, he said, the funds were used to cover the extra cost of food and supply the new items to support the delivery and transportation services.

The emergency funds also were used to hire a coordinator for this specific program. Previously the program was run by volunteers, Boller said. 

The program will now be a permanent component of the Coralville Community Food Pantry, and as it continues to grow in popularity, Boller said the food pantry will be keeping the delivery and transportation system.

The grant program classified its assistance into three categories — innovative new programming, capacity building, and purchase of essential equipment and supplies.

Last year, the county gave funds to AbbeHealth Services, which provides transportation for Johnson County residents older than 60. Rides through the transportation services allowed residents to travel to doctor’s appointments and go to the grocery stores for items and goods. 

Grow Johnson County, a hunger-relief farm program, also received a grant to repair a tractor. 

Boller also explains that the grant has been, “tremendously helpful.”

If nonprofit organizations are searching for funds Boller urges them to look to Johnson County as they support new programs and emerging needs. 

Jacoby said she has seen how community members have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have seen a margin increase in the General Assistance Program,” she said. “Families are really struggling, struggles with hours cut at work, missing work for quarantine, struggling to find child care.”