Rebeka S. appreciates the option for mobile and permanent pantries. She’s used both as a resource to help handicapped relatives and grab food while being unhoused in the winter months.
“We’re stressed out and hungry. We’re kind of getting what we can, where we can, without bothering anyone… because it’s real cold. I’m looking for a better brighter future and some sunshine.”
She finds that the most helpful items are frozen meat like beef and chicken and items that don’t require little preparation. While the percentage of individuals being assisted by the DMARC Food Pantry Network that are currently unhoused is nowhere near a majority, the needs of those who experience homelessness are often different than the majority of those utilizing a DMARC pantry. DMARC is working to meet people where they are at through the new DMARC-Ket Mobile Food Pantry on-the-go. This new vehicle can reach sites that our previous mobile units could not and will offer service at a window. Our vehicle will visit sites like DART Central Station Downtown and congregate living sites like Senior Care Facilities and apartment complexes where we know we can reach people more efficiently.
This can make a world of a difference for people like Jimmy, who are facing additional barriers while being unhoused. Jimmy lost his job about 2 years ago and has been unhoused ever since. He is working with Primary Health Care to try and find help with housing but his bag was recently stolen when he was sleeping. He no longer has his wallet or his EBT card to help with groceries. His face is covered as he heals from extreme burns.
He tries not to use the pantry because “there are people who need it more than me.”
He has been in Des Moines area for about 4 years. Only been to the pantry 2-3 times. This stigma around using a food pantry is not new and is held by even some of our neighbors who face the most barriers to breaking the cycle of poverty.