Iowa City Press-Citizen Article

Iowa City Press-Citizen Article

Cathy LockwoodMarch 03, 2021

Marion-based Shelf 2 Table delivering freeze-dried food to your doorstep, for emergencies and beyond

Whether you're preparing for the next emergency, going camping or just want a snack or pre-diced ingredients that'll keep, owner Cathy Lockwood is ready to help you "Be prepared."

 Isaac Hamlet | Iowa City Press-Citizen

Cathy Lockwood lost her job during the pandemic, her thoughts went back to her time in Girl Scouts, as a kid.

"I guess how all of this came to fruition (is because) I’ve always been a Girl Scout, and the motto is 'Be prepared'," Lockwood said of her early days of brainstorming business ideas. "I didn't want to open a restaurant (because) restaurants have been decimated (by COVID-19) ... I was looking for something that was low-risk."

Officially launched on Dec. 12, Shelf 2 Table is a new online Marion-based business operated by Lockwood, who's got experience as a hotel and restaurant manager under her belt. The business specializes in delivering freeze-dried snacks and meals.

Shelf 2 Table bears in mind the Girl Scouts motto still seared in Lockwood's memories. After a year that no one was prepared for, the idea of selling food with a long shelf life was appealing to Lockwood.

So, mid-2020, she began converting her garage and basement into a consumer kitchen to make her business possible. In the process of installing the kitchen, the events of last year further proved to her the virtues of preparedness.

"I had my 'ah-ha' moment back in June," she recalled. "Ironically, I was going to have my machines (for freeze-drying) delivered the day the derecho hit."

The shelf life varies depending on the food, but most freeze-dried items are good for at least several years, and many have a shelf life for 25 years or longer.

The process of freeze-drying, Lockwood said, typically takes 20-40 hours to complete. She freezes food items at -40 degrees Fahrenheit before dehydrating them and immediately vacuum-sealing them for shipping or delivery.

Though the service has a clear use during a global pandemic or a derecho, Lockwood said she thinks her products will have an appeal beyond that — whether you're preparing for the next emergency, going camping or if you just want a snack or pre-diced ingredients that'll keep.

"You can have jars of food on your counter or at work," she said. "You can have a jar of freeze-dried jalapenos and onions on your counter (at home) and you don’t have to worry about prep."

The business is still new, but there are bigger plans in the works. Just last week, Lockwood expanded her delivery radius so that orders 20-40 miles away are possible at a $10 charge, so long as the order is for at least $99 (with less expensive options for shipping or closer delivery detailed at

Despite the fact she's doing everything herself — from food prep to delivery — Lockwood said she's been thrilled to see the business come together.

"It’s never dull," she said. "I love having the variety — from production to social media to the creative side of things ... I love it all."

Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Press-Citizen. Reach him at or (319)-688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.