DMARC Food Pantry Network Breaks May record on the heels of Governor signing SNAP legislation

Des Moines, IA (May 3, 2023) –   The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry Network assisted 20,822 unique individuals in May 2023.  This exceeds the previous May record set in 2019 by 2,432 unique individuals – a 13 percent increase. Sadly, this is the third record-breaking month in a row for the DMARC Food Pantry Network and comes on the heals of Governor Kim Reynolds signing S.F. 494 into law Thursday, June 1.  The law is estimated to kick over 2,800 Iowans off Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by adding additional administrative barriers to access the program.

“SNAP is, and should be, the most effective tool we have in the fight against food insecurity,” said DMARC CEO Matt Unger. “These continued attacks at both the state and federal level on the program are challenging it’s effectiveness and will make it more difficult for struggling Iowans to access the assistance their families need to thrive. We will certainly see even more people turning to the DMARC Food Pantry Network to make ends meet.”

DMARC Food Pantry Network has seen 4 of the 5 busiest days in our 47-year history including an all-time single-day record of 1,725 unique individuals on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

The end of May marks 13 months in a row where the number of new individuals utilizing the DMARC Food Pantry Network was a monthly record. The ending of pandemic-era relief programs like maximum SNAP benefits and sustained inflation has forced many to seek out additional support from food pantries over the last year.

New Individuals to the DMARC Food Pantry Network 2022/2023

Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is currently approaching a 15-year low in Iowa – April 2023 saw the lowest number of people enrolled in SNAP in Iowa since July 2008. Iowa ranks 38th in the nation in SNAP program access index according to the US Department of Agriculture.

“Many of the things that impact our work are beyond our control, but this legislation and its harmful effects are entirely preventable. While we can’t predict the future, there is nothing on the horizon that will positively impact the numbers we are seeing,” said Unger. “This kind of need will take a community-wide effort to combat. Every individual effort makes a difference – no matter how small.”

Even though a majority of the visitors to the DMARC Food Pantry Network are eligible for SNAP benefits, just 45 percent of individuals accessing the network in April 2023 are actively enrolled in SNAP. This number has been steadily decreasing for years and had been over 50 percent as recently as 2019.

Wednesday, Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority announced a new $5 million Iowa Food Insecurity Infrastructure Fund that will grant eligible nonprofits funds for building, expanding, or remodeling facilities. No funds have been allocated to offset the increased cost of food for pantries or individuals.

“The people of the state of Iowa are the greatest infrastructure we have – so let’s invest in them,” said Unger. “Food pantries are a vital resource to those in our community seeking out assistance, but stagnant wages and out-of-control inflation are the root cause of people’s frustrations.  This funding is ignoring the pieces of the puzzle that we simply can’t tackle alone.”

The new federal budget was signed into law by President Biden Friday, June 2 with the inclusion of new work requirements for adults age 50-54 that has the potential to kick an estimated 9,000 Iowans off of SNAP.


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