Food Bank of Iowa gears up for record demand with $2 million donation

DES MOINES — The Food Bank of Iowa has received a $2 million gift from a prominent Des Moines family, to better serve the 300,000 Iowans who are food insecure.

Food insecurity has been a longstanding problem in Iowa, even though the state’s farmers grow 18% of the nation’s corn. A third of those hungry people are children. The Food Bank works with about 700 front-line organizations, which distribute food to people across 30,000 square miles of Iowa on a daily basis.

“And what we’re hearing from our partners – front-line pantries, feeding sites, homeless shelters, day cares – they’re seeing double, triple and, in some parts of the state, four times the need,” said Michelle Book, the food bank’s executive director.

Book said this week’s major donation is a huge first step in an $11 million campaign to expand its existing storage site in Des Moines. This will allow the Food Bank to buy and store more food, and buy it in larger quantities, which means getting it at better prices.

Like many food banks across the country, the Food Bank of Iowa is seeing record demand. Book said August was the charity’s biggest distribution month in its 40-year history, and there is no slowdown on the horizon.

“It erupted immediately April 1 as maximum SNAP benefits went away and inflation really started to hit families’ food budgets,” she said. “We are seeing one after another record-breaking months for the Food Bank of Iowa.”

A report from Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, said 53 million people received help from food banks in 2021, the latest national figures available, and the demand in 2022 has been even higher.

The Food Bank of Iowa helps support agencies in Cerro Gordo, Worth, Franklin, Winnebago, Hancock, and Wright counties in our immediate listening area.