DMARC Food Pantry Network Breaks August Record

The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry Network assisted 20,203 people in August 2022, a new record for the month, and an 86% increase over August 2021. Nearly 2,000 people used a DMARC food pantry for the first time ever, one of the highest numbers of new individuals in a single month for DMARC.

In August, nearly 2,000 people used a DMARC food pantry for the first time ever.

“There is an incredible amount of need in our community right now,” said DMARC CEO Matt Unger. “People are struggling to meet the new costs for food, housing, child care, health care, and transportation. Wages aren’t keeping up. It’s a balancing act – and families, many for the first time ever, are increasingly turning to food pantries to put food on the table.”

In June, the Food Bank of Iowa served a record-setting 135,000 individuals, and one in eight of those people were assisted through the DMARC Food Pantry Network. The increased level of need for food pantries is likely being influenced by rising costs for consumers, but more than anything else, DMARC believes the higher traffic at food pantries can be attributed to a decrease in benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that occurred earlier this year.

Emergency Allotments for SNAP ended in Iowa in April and the average monthly SNAP benefits for households dropped by more than $200.

“Emergency Allotments for SNAP ended in Iowa in April and the average monthly SNAP benefit for households dropped by more than $200,” said Unger. “We have seen dramatic increases in food pantry use since April, and are now back to breaking monthly records, just like we were prior to the pandemic.”

In addition to the DMARC Food Pantry Network setting an all-time record of individuals assisted in the month of August, four DMARC partner food pantries assisted more people in August 2022 than any other month on record: Bidwell Riverside Center, Caring Hands Eastview Food Pantry, Johnston Partnership Place, and Urbandale Food Pantry.

The Urbandale Food Pantry is serving more visitors than ever before. In August alone, 3,495 individuals from 1,532 families visited the pantry. More so, we are welcoming more new families than ever before with an average of over 140 new families each month. Complicating our ability to serve the increased numbers of visitors are the high costs of food and decreases in the volume of food donated by local restaurants, grocery stores and cafes.

We simply cannot do the work we do without the steadfast dedication of our staff, and volunteers. But community support is vital, too. People can help in several ways, from donating money to volunteering at the pantry to hosting food and personal item drives. Reach out to your local food pantry today and learn about opportunities.

Patty Sneddon-Kisting
Executive Director, Urbandale Food Pantry

Unfortunately we have seen the increase that we predicted was coming our way. We had some of our busiest months in 2019, immediately before the COVID pandemic started. Higher food costs, high gas prices and the Governor’s end to the emergency declaration have given rise to increased traffic at food pantries, which was reduced starting in April 2020 thanks to additional SNAP benefits and other governmental supports. We have dozens of people calling every day to find out what it takes to come access our services, our hours, and how often they can come visit us. We are seeing faces we haven’t seen in 6 years or more, not to mention the increase in families who have never needed this type of help before.

They are all very grateful, but it is a lot of food that we need to move in each week to keep the shelves stocked. August is not typically a busy month, so we are bracing for what the last quarter of 2022 will bring to our doors. We can use more hands – volunteer for any pantry – to help get this important work done. 2 hours/week makes such a difference! Money is also helpful, as our costs have gone up as well, and we can purchase items for whatever the greatest need is.

Andrea Cook
Program Director, Johnston Partnership Place

The families that are pouring into our pantry share that their income (whether it be from working, or social security, etc.) is not increasing, and the skyrocketing costs of food and other basic necessities are putting them in a spot where they can no longer cover the things they need – starting with food.

We continue to visit with many people daily that say they’ve never been to a food pantry before. We are seeing a flux in refugee families. Many of the people we are helping share that they make just a little bit too much to qualify for SNAP benefits (food stamps). They are just trying to keep food on the table and feed their children. We’re serving more people than we ever have before in our 129-year history. We are in great need of any food donations, and we need volunteers to help families through the pantry and to stock food.

Missy Reams
Volunteer & Community Outreach Manager, Bidwell Riverside Center

“So many of our clients are brand new to using a food pantry or haven’t had to use one for years,” said David Harper, Director of Caring Hands Eastview Food Pantry. “Everyone says the cost of groceries, gas, and essentials are making life difficult. People are appreciative of how easy DMARC makes it to receive food.”

The number of Iowans receiving SNAP benefits is the lowest it has been in 14 years.

While the DMARC Food Pantry Network and other food banks and food pantries across the state are breaking records, the number of Iowans receiving SNAP benefits is the lowest it has been since November 2008, nearly 14 years ago.

“Nonprofit organizations are stepping up to meet this record-breaking need, but we can’t and don’t do it alone,” said Unger. “We’ve had tremendous financial support from our partners – across the board – to help us meet the growing needs. But policy support is important too. We need our government leaders to work with us to make programs like SNAP more accessible and easier to enroll in, not create more barriers to access this critical assistance.”

In addition to providing nutritious food through its network of 15 partner food pantries, numerous mobile food pantries, and a home delivery service, DMARC advocates for policies that would shorten the line at food pantries, including support for the SNAP program.

SNAP is the best tool we have in the fight against hunger.

“SNAP is the best tool we have in the fight against hunger,” said Unger. “There are not enough charitable dollars out there to be able to make nearly as great an impact. With Farm Bill negotiations starting up, it’s important that people not only support their local anti-hunger organizations, but also share the stories and facts we know to be true with elected leaders to help them understand the reality and depth of the situation and the consequences of making it harder to access critical safety-net programs like SNAP.”

The DMARC Food Pantry Network consists of 15 partner food pantries and multiple mobile food pantry locations across Greater Des Moines. DMARC’s partner pantries include Bidwell Riverside Center, Caring Hands Eastview Food Pantry, Catholic Charities Outreach Center, Central Iowa Shelter & Services, Clive Community Services, DMARC-ket Southside Food Pantry, IMPACT Community Action Partnership – Drake Neighborhood, IMPACT Community Action Partnership – Ankeny, Johnston Partnership Place, Polk County Northside Food Pantry, Polk County River Place Food Pantry, Salvation Army Citadel, Salvation Army Temple, Urbandale Food Pantry, and West Des Moines Human Services.

1 Reply to "DMARC Food Pantry Network Breaks August Record"

  • DMARC-ket Southside Food Pantry Now Open – DMARC United
    September 26, 2022 (8:02 am)

    […] in the 46-year history of the DMARC Food Pantry Network. In August, the DMARC Food Pantry Network set a new monthly record, assisting over 20,000 individuals, including nearly 2,000 first-time food pantry […]

Got something to say?

Some html is OK