Aaron and Mary - Riceville Little Free Pantry Captains
“There’s a lot more need and lot more hunger than the average person sees,” said Aaron, an Iowa Select Farms sow farm manager and Riceville Little Free Pantry Captain. “I didn’t think it was going to be that big, but then I realized our food pantry is only open day a week and when it is open, there’s always a line all the way down the block for it. That’s why our little pantries are so important.”
Aaron and his fiancé, Mary, are both sow farm managers for Iowa Select Farms in northeast Iowa and are the Riceville Little Free Pantry Captains. Riceville is the site of the first-ever Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation Little Free Pantry. It is located outside of the community’s library, just blocks from the school where it was installed in 2019. Aaron and Mary have been taking care of it ever since.
“When the company asked Mary and I to be involved, saying yes was a no brainer. We are honored they thought of us,” said Aaron. “We’re thankful to be able to do something for the community. Helping out and making a difference like this, I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
The couple’s dedication to stocking the pantry and their support of the Foundation’s mission to fight food insecurity in rural Iowa has inspired overwhelming support from the community.
“We often have people from the community knocking on our door to bring us donations or putting new items in the pantry on their own. There’s even a lady that knits hats and scarves for it,” Aaron explained. “There is so much community support. Even if people don’t work for Iowa Select, they just want to help, and the pantry gives them a way to do that.”
With all this community support, Aaron and Mary find it easy to enjoy giving back to the community. They often shop for the pantry and restock it with their daughter. Being able to share a part of their work at Iowa Select with her, especially one that means so much to them, is something they take pride in.
“Doing this definitely makes me proud to work for Iowa Select. There are so many things that Iowa Select does that stand out; it goes beyond just the pantries. There is a lot I’m proud of in this company,” said Aaron. “Most people choose to turn a blind eye to these little communities that are three hours from Des Moines, but the Hansens do the opposite. They show up for us, and I don’t think most companies would do that.”