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Assistance programs Hamilton, Story, Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek, and Tama County.

Find financial help as well as free stuff in the Central Iowa area, which includes several counties. There are charities, churches, and government agencies that offer grants to help with rent or utility bills. Or get free food, loans, clothes or gasoline vouchers and other basic needs

Assistance is offered in Story, Hamilton, Hardin, Poweshiek, Tama and Marshall County. The funds can help pay bills or rent, cover grocery costs or medical needs, give students from back to school supplies or children toys at Christmas. Find emergency financial assistance, financial help from Catholic Charities, legal aid, case management, and other social services.

Help with utility bills, rent, and other expenses

The entire region is supported by a non-profit organization known as Mid-Iowa Community Action, Inc. They are the local community action agency. A number of resources are provided to the less fortunate, low income, seniors, and residents that are struggling.

  • Head Start is the main child development program. It offers cognitive development, health and nutrition, extracurricular activities, and quality child care. Staff offer free health screenings and nutrition education activities and offer other support. Parents can also access social services from it.
  • Family Development is a form of long term case management. Receive help and advice when it comes to employment, educational, and health care needs including physical mental health.
  • Food assistance is provided by Mid-Iowa Community Action, Inc. It serves Hamilton, Poweshiek, and other counties. Receive assistance from programs such as food stamps or referrals to food pantries or get free stuff including hygiene supplies or toiletries.
  • Quality health care is a focus too. This includes information on health insurance options, prenatal health care, dental assistance, health screenings, immunizations, and post-partum care.
  • Energy conservation type assistance is offered from weatherization. This will help decrease a families' utility costs or heating bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Many low-income families and seniors see their energy bills decrease. Click more on medical bill help.




  • Heating bill assistance is available in Iowa from LIHEAP or directly from gas and energy companies. The Mid-Iowa Community Action, Inc., or MICA, may have case managers that can help people apply.
  • Youth Development is provided from after-school programs, a learners program and more. They also partner with local organizations to offer assistance.
  • TBRA is a rent assistance program for counties such as Story or Marshall. This is a subsidy program that combines both loans as well as HUD grants for housing costs. The applicant needs to meet income limits that are in place.

Mid-Iowa Community Action, Inc. can be reached at (641) 752-7162. Call for information, referrals, or other support. Or locate other support from Mid-Iowa Community Action.

Christian Hands Across Traer offers several resources. They include gas assistance for doctor appointments, a food voucher for the North Tama County food pantry, funds for prescriptions, rent and utility bill assistance. (319) 478-2602.

Salvation Army operates from a few areas in the region. They provide a number of social services to the low income and poor. Among them include free clothing for those in need, a food pantry, shelter, and holiday programs. While less common, some individuals may be able to receive emergency financial assistance.

Other resources may include representative payee service and/or prescription medication assistance. Salvation Army centers in Central Iowa also give out free stuff, including school supplies or vouchers for a hotel or tank of gasoline. Or get Meals on Wheels or other aid.

  • 107-109 West State Street, Marshalltown, Iowa 50158, (641) 753-5236
  • 703 East Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50010
  • 303 East Washington Street, Montezuma, IA 50171, (641) 623-3275

Community Services are available in most Iowa counties. They can offer general relief or emergency payments for the poor or those who don’t qualify for government aid. This can include funds or grants for rent, utility and heating bill payments, medical care, and transportation. Veterans programs are offered to, including for the family of a wartime veteran. They may also qualify for help with rent, utilities, and limited medical expenses. The resources are offered at the following locations.

  • Marshall County, Courthouse Annex, 101 East Main Street, Marshalltown, Iowa 50158, (641) 754-6390
  • Poweshiek County, 120 South West Street, Grinnell, Iowa 50112, (641) 236-9199
  • Story County Community Services, 126 South Kellogg, Suite 201, Ames, IA 50010
  • Tama County Offices, 101 South Main, Toledo, Iowa 52342, (641) 484-3160
  • 104 West State Street, Toledo, IA 52342, telephone - (641) 484-3341





Upper Des Moines Opportunity, Inc. also supports the region. They offer programs to low income people, including fuel assistance, food pantries, job training and other critical needs. Other government resources available at the non-profit can include WIC and Head Start. Call (712) 859-3885

Emergency Residence Project - Offers transitional housing to families and emergency rent assistance, short-term shelter and meals to the homeless, and maybe even money to help with past due rent, deposits, and utilities. 225 S. Kellogg, Ames, Iowa 50010, (515) 232-8075

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, in Ames Iowa, may have emergency rent funds available. Call (515) 292-3810. They often work with Catholic Charity churches to help the less fortunate, unemployed, and low income. Learn more on and get Catholic Charities financial help applications.

Hamilton County Outreach Center provides a number of resources from their office in Webster City. Some of the assistance is LIHEAP Crisis which will help with paying heating bills in a life threatening situation. It may offer temporary shelter, fuel, blankets, heaters and furnace repairs. Chore Service and Home Repairs are for senior citizens.

Food is offered from a variety of local, state, and federal government programs to meet family's emergency nutrition needs. A Baby's Room provides clothing and supplies for infants. Other resources include youth scholarships, Coats for Kids, Thanksgiving through the food pantry, Christmas program, winter coats and more based on need. Or contact the center for referral and outreach. Call (515) 832-6451 for details.

Family Development Center is a resource for many government and public assistance programs. They are based at locations below. Examples include the following.

  • Energy assistance for low income home owners and renters.
  • FADS, or family development, is for Iowa FIP recipients and can move families toward self sufficiency.
  • Weatherization will offer major energy efficiency services without cost to local homeowners/renters.
  • Child care programs, including Head Start, offer comprehensive child development experience, meals, and health care to children ages three to five.
  • WIC offers nutrition education, health screening, formula, a supplemental food package for pregnant, and more for women, infants and children.
  • Comprehensive social services and referrals are offered.
  • Child health care includes well child physical, social assessments, developmental screening, community referrals, vision and hearing screening tests and more.

The main Family Development centers in the area are as follows.
Poweshiek County, 611 Fourth Avenue, Grinnell, Iowa 50112, (641) 236-3923
Tama County Family Development Center, 105 South State Street, Tama, Iowa 52339, dial (641) 484-4713
Story County, 230 SE 16th St, Ames, IA 50010, (515) 956-3333
Hamilton County is located at 500 Fairmeadow Drive, Webster City, IA 50595, dial (515) 832-9550

St. Vincent De Paul Society assists low income and struggling families who cannot afford utility, rent or mortgage payments, clothing, furniture and food. Applicants must first go through their counties general relief application process before contacting St. Vincent. The food pantry includes free food, diapers, health and personal hygiene products. Clothing may be offered for work or school purposes. The charity may also provide free toys to children (14 and under) for Christmas. Call (515) 282-8327.





Ames Department of Planning and Housing may have low interest loans for minor home repairs and assistance or grants for first time home buyers. Call (515) 239-5400.

Story County area housing, rent, and eviction prevention programs - Lower income families, homes with children (and single moms) as well as others have options. The government and non-profits both can help pay rent, offer loans, and other forms of housing support. More on Ames rental assistance.

Aging Resources of Central Iowa offers Basic Need Assistance. This can meet the emergency needs of low-income persons age 60 years and older and senior citizens. Examples of what may be offered includes prescription drugs, dental expenses, and information on Medicare. The disabled and elderly can also learn about free assistive devices for medical needs, grants for utility and heating bills, eye glasses, home cleaning, extermination, plumbing and electrical work. The center can also help arrange furnace or water heater repair. Dial (515) 255-6142, or click here for Aging Resources of Central Iowa.

Legal Aid is offered for a number of needs. The goal is to ensure the low income and underserved have access to low cost, or free, representation. While dozens of services and civil needs can be addressed, some examples are as follows. Receive free legal assistance for people with disabilities. Lawyers can advice those that have been denied government benefits such as Social Security, food stamps, or SSI.

Get information on federally subsidized housing, homeownership, landlord/tenant evictions, and foreclosures. They can also help and advise Iowa families with utility disconnections. In general, the assistance offered ranges from providing counsel and free legal advice to representation before various agencies and courts. Call (800) 272-0008.

Free food pantries

The area is served by a number of non-profit food banks, churches, and charities. They may serve meals, provide free groceries, canned goods, and other support, such as SNAP food stamp applications. The main locations are below.

-Eldora Food Shelf, Food Pantries is based at 714 6th Street. Dial (515) 858-2577
-Lord's Cupboard, 701 Main Street, Jewell, Iowa 50130, (515) 827-5423. This sites covers Hamilton County.
-Food Bank at St. John's United Methodist Church. The Hardin County site is at 207 Amanda, Radcliffe, IA 50230. Telephone number is (515) 899-2327. May have resources such as free hot meals, blankets, and other basic needs.
-Hubbard Community Help Center, 115 South Illinois, Hubbard, Iowa 50122, (641) 864-2608
-Montezuma is located on 106 First Circle V Drive.
-Pentecostal Apostolic Faith Church Food Pantry, Churches United, 700 East Sixth Street, Davenport, IA 52801, (563) 332-5002. Call for canned goods or government commodities.
-South Tama County pantry operates at 511 McClellen Street.
-Bethesda Lutheran Church helps families in Story County. Call (515) 232-6256.
-Calvary United Methodist Church, 1403 24th Street, Ames, IA 50010, (515) 232-6329
-Eddie Davis Community Center covers all central Iowa counties.
-Evangelical Free Church of Ames Iowa. Phone number is (515) 232-2765.
-Grand Avenue Baptist Church, 612 24th Street, Ames, Iowa 50010, dial (515) 232-8803 for hours.
-Harvest Vineyard Church operates a free food pantry. Call (515) 290-6881 to donate or more information on the application process.
-Jesus Right Hand. Address is 110 Duff, Ames, IA 50010, (515) 232-3074
-Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, 610 Broad Street (The Way Bookstore), Story City, IA 50248, (515) 733-4725. Residents of Story City, Gilbert and Roland Communities can call for food, referrals, and other assistance.
-Slater/Sheldahl Food pantry can be called at (515) 228-3600.
-United Methodist Church is located in Colo Iowa. (515) 377-2534
-Zearing and McCallsburg Food Bank. Call (641) 487-7477. May have free groceries, clothing, holiday meals, Turkeys, and other aid.







Regional free healthcare clinics and dental centers.

Light Center for Community Health is a free or low cost community clinic. Some of the services offered include physical exams, check ups for acute conditions, such as colds, sore throats, flu, and ear infections. Some of the medical care may also provide for the maintenance for chronic diseases or referrals to specialists if needed. The address is 306 Fourth Avenue, Grinnell, IA 50112. Call (641) 236-2385.

Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa is a faith-based, not-for-profit community health care center. The clinic can be reached at (800) 433-3883.

Hawkeye Community College Dental Clinic offers exams, preventive screening and hygiene care. Low income and uninsured patients may receive health care as well on a sliding fee scale. 1501 East Orange Road, Waterloo, IA 50704. Call (319) 296-1030 for intake, or find more programs for dental bills.

Primary Health Care - Marshalltown Clinic offers Family Practice, Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Gynecology, Internal Medicine, Immunization, Comprehensive Dental Care, Acute & Chronic Illness Care, and Free or Low Cost Prescription Drugs. There are several locations of the clinic, as follows.

  • 412 East Church Street, Marshalltown, Iowa 50158, (641) 753-4021
  • Central, 1200 University Avenue, Des Moines; 515-248-1500.
  • Eastside, 3509 E. 29th Street, Des Moines; 515-248-1600.
  • Southside, 2353 SE 14th Street, Des Moines. 515-248-1400.
  • Primary Health Care Dental Clinic, 2353 SE 14th Street, Des Moines. 515-248-1470.
  • Marshalltown Clinic, 412 E. Church Street; 641-753-4021.
  • Marshalltown Dental Clinic, 112 East Linn, Marshalltown, 641-844-6230.


By Jon McNamara

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