CROSS Ministries assistance programs.

The goal of CROSS Ministries is to help the low income and people living in poverty in Polk County. The aid is targeted as a hand up, and not a hand out, with a focus on providing short term needs as the family works to end the cycle of homelessness or poverty. Everything provided from them ans partners such as Des Moines Area Religious Council, whether financial aid or basic needs, is intended to help people gain stability.

Many of the services are offered as a referral to another agency in Polk County, however there may be money available from fund raisers and other activities that the volunteers at CROSS Ministries are involved in. More details on the services are available below.

Polk County residents facing homelessness, whether they rent or own, or if they are threatened with some other form of housing crisis, can get advice so they can gain stability. The main options are as follows.

  • One time, emergency rental assistance for overdue costs.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing is coordinated with charities for individuals who have experienced long-term homelessness.
  • Guidance and advice is for families and individuals who are threatened with a crisis.
  • Mediation to try to find a solution other than homelessness.

Food and meals from CROSS Ministries are provided by a pantry and community kitchen. There is support given regardless of income and other factors, with no questions asked. Any food assistance will of course depend on available resources and donation levels. The pantries and soup kitchens are primarily volunteer-operated, so please donate surplus items, or volunteer time, if possible as it is a great way to give back to the community.

Short-term food supplies is for area residents who are struggling to make ends meet. Pantries can be a good tool for helping people bridge the gap until they can achieve self-sufficiency and provide for their families on their own, or maybe apply for other government benefits. Needy residents are referred to the services by social workers, and they can receive emergency assistance once or twice to get them through a brief crisis.

In some cases, Gift Cards are passed out. These will allow clients to meet the specific dietary needs of their family which may include managing special dietary needs, and the vouchers also allow parents to make good nutritional choices for their children. People from Des Moines can obtain fruits, vegetables and dairy items, among other groceries.




Hundreds of families receive more basic goods. This may be laundry vouchers, free bus tokens for a job interview, baby items, cleaning supplies, or even diapers. They work closely with groups such as the Des Moines Area Religious Council to coordinate this. While anyone that meets qualifications may benefit, a focus is on families with children and senior citizens.

Holiday Programs, ranging from Easter meals to Thanksgiving and Christmas, helps those in need. There is a particular focus on children from low income families as well as senior citizens, and CROSS Ministries may coordinate food for the holidays and free presents for their children. The homebound, whether they are seniors in a nursing home or maybe the disabled, may be able to receive a meal delivered to them.

Intake and information is available. Anyone from the Polk County community with an identified problem such as medical needs, housing, legal or even personal problems may receive help from the ministries in the form of referrals. While information is offered for anyone, some of the main recipients are vulnerable adults or families experiencing mental health problems, single moms with children, or even senior citizens.

CROSS Ministries social workers do an initial needs assessment and need information on income and what is leading to the crisis. Based on the results of that, they will screen the clients for any type of assistance program eligibility, give information and referrals, and provide short-term services.





Another focus of Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church is to advocate for social change for those facing poverty. They will provide educational opportunities to clients, in partnership with churches, non-profit organizations, and others in the community.

There are many resources available in Des Moines that the charity can refer people to. They include emergency shelter, funds for paying back rent/mortgage assistance, relocation, or heating bill assistance. Individuals with on-going needs, such as long term job placement, are assigned to the appropriate service unit.

There are several government resources, such as SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or section 8 vouchers in the area. All of these government programs consider the household members’ incomes and selected expenses before any type of financial aid is provided to a client.

Other seasonal services include free school supplies, the charity will try to help veterans and the disabled, and more. The center is at Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1050 - 24th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50311, call (515) 279-8877.




By Jon McNamara

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