IDA COUNTY, Iowa (KCAU) – March is International Women’s Month, an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of women in the nation and Siouxland communities.

KCAU 9 honors Kris Gunderson, the winner of this year’s “Remarkable Women” contest, and would like to congratulate her and all of the finalists and nominees.

As KCAU 9’s Remarkable Woman, Gunderson will have a $1,000 donation made, in her name, to the charity of her choice.

Her name and story will also be entered into Nexstar’s National Woman of the Year contest.

“It says when you’re hungry, you feed me. That’s what we want. We want to be a Matthew 25 ministry. That’s what the Community Basket is all about,” said Kris Gunderson.

“The ultimate volunteer. She answered the call when it came in, and she has been very good about getting everything organized. It’s been smooth and always putting in the hours that it takes,” said Jean Conover, volunteer.

Gunderson was a teacher for 30 years before taking on the role of chairman of the Community Basket in Ida County.

“I just prayed, ‘Lord, use me what can I do?’ Because once you’re a teacher, you’re busy and very active and involved, so I thought what can I do to continue to serve,” said Gunderson.

In her volunteer position, Gunderson coordinates monthly food collections and purchases, organizes schedules, and prepares distribution sites in seven rural communities.

“Ida County which has five communities, Odebolt, which is part of Odebolt. Arthur, which is Ida County, and Kiron, which is in Crawford County. It worked. Our first mobile was in Arthur, and we’ve been doing this since September 2012. We have not missed a mobile in the nine-plus years we’ve been doing this,” said Gunderson.

Gunderson said the need for food assistance continues to grow in the area, especially since the pandemic.

“When it first hit in March, April, and May, our numbers were up at the mobile. We probably serve up to 130 families a month, up to 140 families, but some of them are duplicated because they can attend the mobile outreach, but they can also come to the site pantry to get food,” said Gunderson.

But Gunderson is not just a one-woman band; she credits what she calls an army of dedicated volunteers.

“We have 6,000 pounds of food coming to our mobile in Holstein, so that has to be unloaded put on tables, and then we’ll box it up,” said Gunderson.

“We simply find our spot or juggle around to get a spot because there’s so many volunteers it’s hard sometimes to find a place to stand,” said Jean Conover, volunteer.

As a faith-based organization, the majority of the food basket’s volunteers and monetary donations come from churches.

“Many of the churches have a grocery cart out or a collection site where they will collect groceries, and so having seven communities and churches in all the communities, we really have a good support with people putting things in baskets,” said Gunderson.

Gunderson said she will continue to work to grow the Community Basket program so that no one in her community ever goes hungry.

“Food insecurities will probably always going to be there, but you have the hope that we’re always going to be here, and there’s always going to be a Community Basket in Ida in which we can help people with their food needs,” said Gunderson.

Gunderson said she looks forward to the day that she can, again, come face-to-face with the people the Community Basket helps.