DMARC, Food Bank of Iowa commit to work together, share path forward

DES MOINES, Iowa (Feb. 14, 2023) – The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) and Food Bank of Iowa (FBOI) today announced plans for a new food rescue partnership and coordinated distribution standards to assist Polk County neighbors facing food insecurity.

DMARC CEO Matt Unger and Food Bank of Iowa CEO Michelle Book answered questions at a news conference along with Scott Raecker, executive director of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University; and food insecurity expert Jordan Vernoy, co-owner of Cedar Falls-based See What I Mean Consulting.

The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines and United Way of Central Iowa engaged Raecker and Vernoy to lead facilitated conversations with FBOI and DMARC executives and board chairs. The goal was to seek aligned solutions for metro food assistance.

Next steps As a result of these conversations, Book and Unger shared how their organizations will collaborate to better serve the community.

• FBOI and DMARC have established a new agreement providing equitable distribution of retail food rescue across the DMARC network. FBOI will continue to manage food donations through Feeding America retail partners. DMARC will pick up, weigh and deliver donated food to its partner pantries, sharing required data with FBOI.

• The DMARC-ket Southside Food Pantry, located at DMARC headquarters, will become a Food Bank of Iowa partner for the first time. The pantry will align its distribution standards with FBOI’s, and DMARC will encourage its other partner pantries to do the same. FBOI standards include a minimum monthly distribution of one, three-day supply of food for every client.

• The nine pantries not currently served by FBOI under new agreements proposed in fall 2022 have been invited to reapply for partnership. Partnership includes full access to FBOI’s inventory, including donated, purchased and USDA food.

“Food Bank of Iowa and DMARC have demonstrated exceptional leadership to resolve the immediate issues, with a renewed commitment to work well together to address the ongoing challenges of food insecurity in the region,” Raecker said. “This commitment will not in and of itself resolve community food insecurity; however, we’re now positioned for a broad-based stakeholder dialogue to ensure we can support all of our neighbors facing hunger.”

“There is a commitment to continue to work until every one of our Des Moines metro neighbors knows where their next meal is coming from,” Vernoy said.

Food Bank of Iowa CEO Michelle Book added, “Equitably serving Iowans facing food insecurity is at the core of every decision we make at Food Bank of Iowa. I am grateful that during these times of extraordinary need, we can agree that providing a monthly, three-day supply of food is the least we can do to serve our neighbors facing hunger. I look forward to future community conversations on how to best serve Polk County.”

“I thank the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines and United Way of Central Iowa for providing the opportunity for real conversations about how we can unite to provide for our neighbors in need,” said DMARC CEO Matt Unger. “I also thank Michelle (Book) for her willingness to engage in this process and the candor of all involved in working toward solutions. DMARC remains committed to providing basic needs to the community in the most impactful and equitable way possible. We look forward to moving together with FBOI on that shared goal.”

About the Des Moines Area Religious Council

DMARC is an interfaith organization with a mission of working together to meet basic human needs for the greater Des Moines community.

The DMARC Food Pantry Network consists of 15 partner pantry sites, multiple Mobile Food Pantry locations, and a home delivery program. The DMARC Food Pantry Network is committed to providing healthy food options and fresh produce to the people we assist. Once per calendar month, people can select a three-day supply of food from any one of our partner food pantries, and AnyTime Items are available whenever our partner pantries are open. Last year, DMARC assisted over 53,000 unique individuals living with food insecurity in Greater Des Moines.

DMARC could never do the work of feeding so many people without the partnership of many, diverse faith communities. Nearly 200 faith communities from across the religious spectrum support DMARC with cash support, donations of food and service. Because we can do so much more together than we can on our own, DMARC has a commitment to helping our faith communities learn about one another and build relationships.

About Food Bank of Iowa

Established in 1982, Food Bank of Iowa provides nutritious food for Iowa children, families, seniors and veterans to lead full and active lives, strengthening the communities where they live. Serving 55 of Iowa’s 99 counties, Food Bank of Iowa delivers 20 million pounds of food to its 700 partners annually. Two hundred of those organizations are in Polk County. Food Bank of Iowa and its partners put food on the table for more than 150,000 Iowans in need every month, nearly half (46%) of whom are children.

Media contacts:
Blake Willadsen, marketing and communications manager, DMARC, 515-277-6969, extension 227,
Annette Hacker, VP communications, Food Bank of Iowa, 515-867-2885,
Jarad Bernstein, director of communications, Drake University, 515-271-3119,
Hilary Ortmann, director, events & administration, CHARACTER COUNTS! | The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University,

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