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Des Moines community builds bonds through breakfast

DES MOINES, Iowa — Breakfast shouldn’t be hard to come by, but for far too many households they are forced to go without.

“People back home that can’t have anything to eat and with inflation going up. A lot of people are just working every day to get their money up,” said Israel Kelai of Des Moines.

A grassroots group called North Des Moines Mutual Aid makes sure that two Saturdays a month families near Edna Griffin Park start their mornings off right.

“A lot of times there are people lined up around the corner,” said local resident Rick Prettyman.

Eggs, sausage, oatmeal, pancakes, and fresh produce are among the many items all donated from the community without sponsorships. It is cooked up for free and open to all. Prettyman said, “it’s a great thing that happens here. It’s as grassroots as you’ll find anything.”

For Prettyman, it has created new friendships and a newfound love for his community.

“I probably drove by here six months before I knew what was happening really and then I got to meet the people and started feeling a community.”

Kelai recently graduated from Des Moines North High School and said it is uplifting his family.

“It brings a smile to everybody. I bring two plates back to my home and my family and especially my little sister,” said Kelai.

For this neighborhood the community breakfasts every other Saturday have become as routine as the bus stop conveniently located across the street near 13th and College. It has even helped fuel a hungry bus driver or two along the way.

“They will run out there and the bus drivers are friendly and two or three passengers on board, they’ll get taken care of,” said Prettyman.

Since the breakfasts began in February of 2021 the surrounding community has chipped in the $300 it takes to meet the need, but with prices soaring it’s getting more difficult.

Kelai said, “Knowing that we are all in this together and we see the struggle and we are here for you.”

More than a meal. North Des Moines Mutual Aid is building a bond through breakfast.

“Feels like there’s still people that want to help the community grow and come together,” said Kelai.

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