Help Keep School Pantry Stocked this Summer


Mohawk Market couldn’t serve youth if it wasn’t for amazing volunteers. Renae shops for groceries and supplies, as well as helps pack boxes. She puts in countless hours to help make it happen.

That face.

One sweet little kindergarten girl’s face prompted Sasha Holstand and Tara Truex in May 2019 to start the Mohawk Market, so Roosevelt Elementary students would get the nutrition they needed. Today this unique food pantry, which is independently run by teachers and community volunteers, has expanded throughout the Mason City Community School District. It’s now serving 100 families that have been deemed food insecure.

“You must meet children’s basic needs before their educational needs. With COVID-19, we opened our pantry doors to all students of the district,” says Truex, a special education teacher at Roosevelt. “We have decided to keep our pantry running throughout the summer. We seek food that children can prepare for themselves.”

Mohawk Market shelves are packed with cereal, applesauce, crackers, granola bars, fruit snacks, soup, canned meals, canned and frozen vegetables, canned chicken and tuna, boxed meals, pasta, pasta sauce, popcorn, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, snacks, and bananas.

Volunteers assemble weekly to box up the staples for pickup or delivery to local families. Some families do not have transportation. Other parents must work when the pantry is open. To remove barriers for families to get the food they need, the Mohawk Market offers pick-up times and has started a delivery service.

Truex would like to thank these volunteers for stepping in where they’re needed: Becky Buffington, Larry Collins, Valarie Wollner, Sheila Lang, Emily Younke, Jill Hobart, Penny Dahl, and Lisa Hugi, Britney Roe, and Renae Bergman. Iowa State University Extension in Cerro Gordo County also has started volunteering with their staff.

“We’ve been blessed to have the support of so many people. When Sasha and I pitched our idea to our principal, he was instantly onboard. He spoke with the administration and it was determined that we would have to do this through a third party to stay transparent with finances,” says Truex.

“Renae Bergman, a teacher at Lincoln Intermediate, reached out to Grace Church in Mason City. Grace Church opened an account for us. Then we began fundraising, grant writing and making this mission come to life.  United Way and First Citizens Bank were instrumental in helping with startup costs for Mohawk Market,” adds Truex.

ISU Extension staff since April have been delivering food boxes to families in need throughout the Mason City Community School District (MC CSD).

ISU Extension staff since April have been delivering food boxes to families in need throughout the Mason City Community School District (MC CSD).

The COVID-19 pandemic has created more demand for food pantries, and many shelves have stayed empty across the nation. Fortunately, North Iowans are coming together and supporting their own.

Rather than selling at the local farmer’s market, Lucas Ashland of Clear Lake decided to donate fresh vegetables this summer to the Mohawk Market. When the pandemic caused musicians to pull the plug on live performances, members of Betty and the Gents began uplifting people in their community with live Facebook concerts on Friday nights.

May 22 marked the 10th performance of “Live from the Quarantine: Tom and Betty’s Pajama Party.” Tom and Betsy Kirby, who are teachers with Mason City Schools, donate 100% of their virtual tips via Venmo and PayPal to Mohawk Market.

If you’re interested in helping spread the Mohawk Market mission, you can:

“Our donors may only see the boxes of food they donate to help children. With each and every box, however, we see a child. We see the face of a child we know and love, and that sweet face is grateful for your support!” says Truex. “The difference you’re making in that child’s life is immeasurable. We are so thankful for your support!”

Check out Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s website page – Spend Smart. Eat Smart. – for recipes for budget-friendly and kid-friendly recipes. Special thanks to ISU Extension for allowing us to print one of its recipes today. Enjoy!

Whole Grain Cereal Treats


  • 3 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 1 package (10 ounces) regular marshmallows (about 40) or 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups whole grain cereal (Cheerios™, wheat flakes, Wheat Chex™, etc.)
  • Nonstick cooking spray


  1. Heat margarine and marshmallows on high in the microwave for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.
  2. Stir again until smooth.
  3. Add cereal and stir until well coated.
  4. Press mixture into 9" x 13" pan coated with cooking spray using a buttered spatula or waxed paper. Cut into 2-inch squares when cool.