The term “homelessness” usually conjures the idea of not having a place to sleep, but those without housing also lack a place to cook.
Although seeking solace in a shelter is an option, not everyone experiencing homelessness goes to a shelter.
New Horizon Homeless Services recently acquired a new food truck that can help fight hunger and serve the Council Bluffs community.
“It will have many uses,” Brandi Wallar, president and CEO of New Horizons, said at a Thursday afternoon Rotary luncheon. “Someone asked me what I was going to do with this truck. I said, ‘What aren’t we going to do with it?’
New Visions staff — who provide prepared meals — can take the truck to where people live on the street and offer them food, as well as pointing them to resources needed to get them off the street.
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The truck will also promote New Visions’ job training program through Iowa Western Community College’s culinary school, where students will use the truck to take their meals directly to people going hungry, Wallar said.
She added that it can also be used in community crises such as a major fire that provides food to those affected.
New Visions recently acquired the used truck and received more than $6,000 in grants from the Rotary Clubs of Council Bluffs to pay for some repairs that needed to be done, Wallar said.
New Visions is struggling against the growing challenge in Council Bluffs, Wallar said.
“Homelessness is at an all-time high in our city,” Wallar said.
She said the lack of affordable housing is probably the main cause of this problem. Any city with less than 5% rental vacancy has a serious homelessness problem, and Council Bluffs has a vacancy rate of 2.1%, she said.
Limited income, poor credit history, or a previous eviction can create insurmountable barriers to housing for many community members.
Whatever the reason, Wallar said, people are forced to sleep in cars, overcrowded shelters or on the streets.
“People have to go somewhere,” she said.
This is where the new food truck will let New Horizons go, waiting to provide a meal and receive support.