DMARC Mobile Food Pantry Responds to Flooding

At the beginning of this month the DMARC Mobile Food Pantry was tasked with something that had never been asked of it before.

As many are aware the Des Moines area experienced historic flooding at the beginning of July, and for the first time DMARC’s Mobile Food Pantry was called in for flood victim relief efforts. It is the first time that the mobile food pantry has been called to respond to any sort of natural disaster by the local government according to Joe Dolack, the Mobile Food Pantry Manager.

And Dolack would know, as he’s been running the mobile food pantry since its launch in 2016. Becky Whitlow, DMARC’s Food Pantry Network Director worked closely with Dolack during the response.

“I did some purchasing for the weekend as well as delivering food and volunteering for a couple of hours,” said Whitlow.

Whitlow’s main task was ensuring the mobile food pantry had adequate food, yet she would like there to be a better supply for future natural disasters. The emphasis on the importance of volunteers couldn’t have been made clearer by both Dolack and Whitlow.

“We couldn’t have done it without all the volunteers that stepped up to help,” said Dolack.

“Volunteers stepped up with very little notice, Joe was willing to put in a lot of extra hours,” added Whitlow.

One of those volunteers was Charlene Cobb, who noted on the importance of volunteers as well. Cobb made note of the children along with the emotional struggle of volunteering during a natural disaster.

“To talk to the people is difficult,” said Cobb, “people wouldn’t have got as much help [without DMARC].”

Cobb has been volunteering with DMARC for many years and has worked with Dolack often during her time here.

Dolack and Whitlow also made note of the strong sense of community they experienced during the flood response. Dolack mentioned that some people that came through hadn’t eaten yet that day.

“It’s the first time the mobile pantry has ever been called into something like that,” said Dolack, “I felt a sense of community with all the people that were coming through […] and everyone was patient and kind.”

Before working for DMARC Dolack worked for a loss prevention firm that would arrest people for stealing food from grocery stores. Now, Dolack feels he’s providing food for the people that need that food to make it through their daily lives.

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