Andy Buck

Candice Sweet

Going Beyond 2023: Candice Sweet

Candice Sweet, UFG business analyst II, was named the employee winner of the 2023 Scotty McIntyre Jr. Go Beyond Award.

This award honors the legacy of former UFG leader (and son of our company’s founder) Scotty McIntyre Jr., who engrained within our corporate culture the importance of giving back. In that spirit, UFG is honored to make a $5,000 contribution to the Soulfull Supply Co. non-profit — also known as the Little Free Pantry — in recognition of Candice’s commitment to community service.

Listen as both nominators explain the big impact Candice has made on the small town of Quasqueton, Iowa and watch how they were able to surprise Candice with her award. 

Small town. Big impact.

Candice Sweet has always believed in giving back through community service and when she heard a story about a community in another state starting a small food pantry to help their community members in need, she loved the idea and wanted to replicate it in her hometown of Quasqueton, Iowa. 

Quasqueton, or “Quasky” as the locals call it, is a small town that’s home to about 292 households with 11% living below the poverty line. After watching many of her community members struggle to make ends meet, Candice, along with the help of her daughter Sadie, created the Little Free Pantry. This “take what you need, leave what you can” community pantry is where individuals can receive free donations of food, toiletries and personal care items.

The pantry cabinet itself was a do-it-yourself project for Candice and Sadie. They found the broken cabinet at a consignment shop, rolled up their sleeves and fixed, sanded, cleaned and painted it. They even used their Cricut machine to add decals. From there, Candice filled it with what she could, she received personal donations from community members to grocery shop with and people would also add their own food items into the pantry — including homegrown vegetables. 

The Little Free Pantry sparked a giving spirit throughout the town and surrounding areas. Last Thanksgiving, meals for a family of four were donated, during the winter necessities such as gloves and hats were given to the pantry and when the price of eggs was high, a local farmer even donated four dozen eggs.

“Knowing that even just one person has had the opportunity to breathe a little easier, if even for just a second, then the point of having the pantry has been established,” says Candice.

When word spread about what Candice had done for her community she was invited to meetings regarding food insecurity in Buchanan County, organized by the Northeast Iowa Food Bank (NEIFB). By attending meetings, Candice quickly learned that Quasky was considered a “dead zone” for food availability because there was no operating pantry in town and no pop-up or mobile pantries available — serving to strengthen the importance of the Little Free Pantry. 

gobeyond-agentwinner-2023-1UFG's 2023 Employee Go Beyond Award winner, Candice Sweet.

gobeyond-agentwinner-2023-2From left: UFG's Candice Sweet and Brad Raasch.

Through the NEIFB, Candice also learned about the Backpack Summer Program, which delivers a bag of food to East Buchanan School District students each week during the school year. However, they needed assistance delivering the bags of food during the summer months to students in need. Candice was excited to have the opportunity to use her UFG community service hours to deliver those bags.

“Candice is not your ordinary person. She is an exceptional person,” Mary Ann Petsche, UFG scrum master, and one of the nominators of Candice’s award, explains. “She saw a need in her community and the rest is magic.”  

Candice also gives back as a big sister through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program in Cedar Rapids and is working on several other community events in Quasky such as Saturday summer community cookouts, a mobile food pantry and more! Even Quasky Mayor Ben Stanford is impressed by her efforts, calling her a real go-getter and an absolute breath of fresh air.

“I’ve thought a lot about legacy lately and what kind of one I’ll leave for my daughter someday. I had comfortably landed on, above anything else, I’ll leave her one of kindness,” shares Candice. “And with her being present on the day that I was presented with the Go Beyond Award, UFG helped me make that even more of a reality. I am very grateful.”

Do you know a UFG agent or employee to nominate?

Nominations are accepted from January 1 through June 30 each calendar year.