Spotlight: DART Central Station Mobile Food Pantry
STORY BY JOE DOLACK, OPERATIONS MANAGER
Transportation has long been a barrier for people looking to access a food pantry. Learning to meet that need sparked an idea and partnership between Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) and DMARC.
Since 2018, the mobile pantry site at DART Central station has operated every Thursday and has become one of the most utilized mobile sites that DMARC operates. Being downtown or along a dedicated route to larger employers helps us reach folks who may not otherwise find a pantry site.
This location provides food assistance to a higher percentage of those that are unhoused for the Monthly Core Supply and daily AnyTime items, than any other Mobile Pantry Site.
“Public transit reduces barriers and helps people access essential services, education and employment opportunities they may not otherwise have. Hosting the mobile food pantry at DART Central Station is one more way we can reduce barriers for central Iowans who need access to food.” - Chief External Affairs Officer at DART, Erin Hockman
Wheels on the bus, food on the shelves
Over 4,000 individuals have utilized this pantry site and received over 61,000 food items from the staple monthly food supply. Many more visitors also utilize the mobile pantry weekly to stock up on AnyTime daily items. The success of the Mobile Pantry site at DART has a lot to do with the collaboration of both organizations.
“If we can place a Mobile Pantry in the middle of DART Central Station at rush hour, then we can place a Mobile Pantry site anywhere,” DMARC Operations Manager, Joe Dolack said.
DART continually has promoted the opportunity to its riders which has played a strong role in its continued success. The lessons learned from this partnership have helped DMARC continue to reach people accessing food pantries where they are at in life.