DMARC Food Pantry Network sees busiest month of all time in November

26,469 unique individuals were assisted by The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry Network during the month of November, becoming the busiest month in the 47-year history of the network by a significant margin. This exceeds the previous all-time record set in August 2023 by 22 percent.


This concerning rise in traffic is highlighted by the total number of pantry visits exceeding 30,000 for the first time (30,288 pantry services and repeat services).

During this time, DMARC assisted a record 2,292 new individuals and follows a continued rise in people seeking out a pantry for the first time that dates back nearly a year and a ½. The cost of food remains just one piece of a larger emerging crisis around the cost of living that is pushing people to seek out help.


  • “Just after the pandemic ended, food security became an epidemic across the community. So many households in our state are now fighting an increasingly up-hill battle to meet their basic needs. ”
    Matt Unger
  • “Our work in food insecurity isn’t happening in isolation. This is no longer someone else’s problem. The cost of housing, transportation, and childcare have all grown or been a challenge month to month. Meanwhile, the overall cost of living is continuing to outpace wages and many folks are struggling to find help. The changes we are seeing will require a paradigm shift in the way our community addresses these challenges.”
    Matt Unger

  • “We are coming to grips with the prospect that this rate of growth is not sustainable anymore. ”
    Matt Unger

  • “It’s terrifying. I usually try and seek out the silver lining in these situations, but this rise in people struggling to meet their basic human needs is akin to nothing short of an emergency. It isn’t happening miles away. Even if you can’t see it, this could be affecting your neighbors, your co-worker, or even your friends and family.”
    Matt Unger

Nearly 1 in 4 Iowa households are considered below the United Way ALICE threshold (Asset Limited Income Constrained, Employed), earning less than the minimum average income required to meet basic needs. Even with the strong relief in place during the pandemic, many ALICE households struggled, falling short of a survival budget by $2,876.

According to Common Good, an Iowa household of 4 (2 working adults, 2 children) living in Polk County must make $67,008 annually (before taxes) to remain self-sufficient. The same household is spending 15% of their monthly budget on food.

For households with children, these challenges continue to be accentuated by additional expenses like childcare. 71% of single-female-headed households with children did not meet the ALICE threshold (Childcare made up 22% of their survival budget expenses). This mirrors what is happening at the pantry level as 35.6% of those assisted by the DMARC Food Pantry Network in November were under the age of 18.


Want to help us in fighting food insecurity this holiday season? Donating food, funds, and time are the easiest ways to make a difference and your monetary donation is making the biggest impact right now. DMARC can purchase 2-6x more food than individuals by purchasing in bulk through our warehouse operations. You can easily donate next time you shop for groceries by dropping items in the red barrel at the exit. Volunteers are also greatly needed at the DMARC Southside Food Pantry (100 Army Post Rd.) to help visitors navigate the shopping experience. Volunteer as a group (2-6) or individual for 2.5 hours anytime 10 to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

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