June Sees Record Food Pantry Use
The numbers are in, and they are substantial. The DMARC Food Pantry Network served a total of 5,652 families, comprising 14,785 individuals, in the month of June 2015- new all-time record highs in both categories. This translates to respective increases of 27.0% and 21.3%, compared to the month of June 2014. In addition, DMARC served 424 families who said they have never had to use a food pantry before.
What exactly is the cause of this huge increase in use for the DMARC Food Pantry Network?
“The summer months are always a challenge for us – children are out of school and needing to eat at home while at the same time donors are out of town and not thinking about hunger,” said Executive Director Sarai Rice. “This year, we have the added challenge of having opened our newest pantry at the county’s River Place facility.”
Polk County River Place Food Pantry opened its doors on March 9, and has since become the largest DMARC partner pantry, in terms of families served per month.
“River Place is a great option for pantry users because bus service is so close and the pantry is open all day Monday through Friday,” said Rice, “but that means we’re seeing lots of new people who finally have access to the help they need.”
Visitors to any of DMARC’s 12 partner panties in Greater Des Moines can come in once a month to receive a food box that meets DMARC’s self-imposed nutrition guidelines. However, there are other food items available if a client has already received their monthly food box and are still in need of assistance.
“One of the benefits of the DMARC pantries is that some food is available every day,” said Rice. “Bread products, Meals from the Heartland meals, and dried beans are always available, as well as donated fresh fruits and vegetables and any food that’s been donated but doesn’t fit our ‘healthy food’ model.”
The food provided by the DMARC Food Pantry Network may be the only thing keeping local families from experiencing hunger this summer. With increased daily expenditures during the summer, more families are seeking help to put food on their table.
“Summertime is a peak season for DMARC food pantry use,” said DMARC Development Director Kristine Frakes, CFRE. “For these ten or twelve weeks each year, families cannot rely on free or reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches to stretch their food budgets. Throughout the year, DMARC relies on countless donors and community partners that allow us to respond with help at times of urgent need. We are very grateful for this support!”