Food Bank of Iowa CEO makes appeal for state funding

DES MOINES — The leader of Iowa’s largest food bank is urging Iowa lawmakers to provide state funding for the six major food banks in Iowa.

Michelle Book is president and CEO of the Food Bank of Iowa, which distributes food in 55 counties. “Many states provide line item budget funding to Feeding America food banks,” Book said. “…Today we’re funded by private donors, but going forward we would like to embrace a public-private partnership to ensure that we are able to feed all hardworking Iowans and Iowans that have retired or live on disability.”

Book made a direct appeal to Governor Kim Reynolds during an online forum yesterday. Book also made an indirect reference to the governor’s decision to turn down federal funding for summer food assistance to low income households with children.

“As federal poverty benefits become more difficult for Iowans to access, I would like to encourage you to consider providing funds to help Feeding America Food Banks procure food for the over 1200 pantries and feeding sites which we support across all 99 Iowa counties,” Book said.

Reynolds responded briefly, but did not commit to the idea of a public-private partnership with Iowa’s six Food Banks. “I appreciate you and what you do on behalf of those in need, so thanks a lot,” Reynolds said. “And I appreciate your recommendation.”

Reynolds recently notified federal officials Iowa would no longer participate in a program that provides 40 dollars a month for each child in a low income family, to help pay for food while school is out for the summer. In a written statement released December 23, Reynolds said “COVID-era cash benefit programs are not sustainable” and this program “did nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic.”