Help “Scare Away Hunger!” with DMARC this Halloween


Staff Spotlight: Luke Elzinga

Luke Elzinga joined DMARC in April of 2014. As Communications and Advocacy Manager, he writes and edits a variety of written material for print and web, designs print pieces and graphics, maintains dmarcunited.org, takes photos, produces videos, manages press outreach, leads DMARC's advocacy efforts, and other communications and advocacy tasks. Luke earned his BA in Advertising from Iowa State University. He previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Montana Legal Services Association in Helena, Montana. Luke is a 2017 fellow of the New Leaders Council Des ...

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Staff Spotlight: Monica Curl

Get to know DMARC Development & Outreach Associate Monica Curl! What drew you to DMARC originally, and how has it changed since then? Just out of college I chose to become an AmeriCorps VISTA and as a VISTA I worked with three different organizations and DMARC was one of them. As a VISTA I completed in person interviews with people using the food pantries. I was impressed that DMARC was asking questions about what the pantry clients would like in a pantry and that they also worked to provide healthy food. I turned down another career path and when looking of a ...

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Volunteer Spotlight: Sarah Engbretson

This month we're shining a spotlight on DMARC volunteer Sarah Engbretson, who serves on multiple DMARC committees and helps engage young professionals in fighting hunger. Thank you for all you do for DMARC, Sarah! Why do you volunteer with DMARC? I love how DMARC serves the community. Not only do they provide healthy and culturally appropriate options at the pantries in their network, their mission is to provide assistance in a dignified and respectful way. DMARC encounters people in their most vulnerable state and knowing that they meet every person who enters one of ...

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DMARC Applauds Historic Increase to SNAP Benefits

The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) applauds the recent announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, used to calculate benefit amounts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in Iowa as Food Assistance. As a result, effective October 1, the average SNAP benefit will increase by 27%, or $36.24 more per person, per month. A temporary 15% increase to SNAP benefits that was included in the 2021 American Rescue Plan is set to expire on September 30. “For the 285,000 ...

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DMARC Launches New Mobile Food Pantry Site at Merle Hay Mall

DMARC is launching a new mobile food pantry site at Merle Hay Mall, starting Tuesday, August 3. The mobile food pantry will be on-location at the Merle Hay Applebee’s south parking lot every Tuesday evening from 4:00-6:00pm in conjunction with Applebee’s “Together We Care Tuesdays.” This new mobile food pantry site is the result of a collaboration between DMARC, the City of Des Moines, Merle Hay Mall, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), and Merle Hay Road Applebee’s. “DMARC is grateful for the collaborative effort between numerous partners ...

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Get to Know Phil Kiwayiele

Pamphile (Phil) Kiwayiele recently joined DMARC's staff as the Accounting/Office Administrator. Before joining DMARC, Phil worked as a staff accountant at various companies, preparing and processing accounting journal entries, data analysis, budget preparation, financial reporting, preparing monthly ledger account reconciliations, managing accounts payable and receivable, and other accounting tasks. Phil was born and raised in Brazzaville, Congo, before travelling to France for studies at the University of Aix-Marseille II, where he obtained his Master's degree in ...

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UNITS of Central Iowa Challenges Cubs Fans to Fill Storage UNIT with Cereal for DMARC

UNITS of Central Iowa is celebrating their grand opening by hosting a food and fund drive for the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry Network at the Iowa Cubs game on Saturday, July 10. Fans are challenged to fill a storage UNIT that will be on-site with cereal for the DMARC Food Pantry Network. With each donation of cereal or cash contribution, participants will be entered to win a $500 travel voucher courtesy of The Travel Center, LTD. DMARC is encouraging donations of whole grain, low sugar cereal. “Local baseball fans are excited we can ...

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Celebrating Our Differences

At DMARC, we have a mission of working together to meet basic human needs for the greater Des Moines community - and that includes everyone. As we celebrate Pride this month, we celebrate our LGBTQ+ community and recognize the unique hardships faced by the queer community in meeting basic human needs. According to the Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2021: 30% of all LGBTQ+ youth experienced food insecurity in the past month, including half of all Native/Indigenous LGBTQ+ youth. Only 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ youth found their home to be LGBTQ-a...

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DMARC Honors the Life of Harold Varce

Rev. Harold A. Varce, former Executive Director of the Des Moines Area Religious Council, passed away on June 8 at the age of 96. Varce served as DMARC’s Executive Director from June 1973 to December 1989. Under his leadership, DMARC established its Food Pantry Network (originally known as the Emergency Food Pantry), the Compassion in Action program, Hospice of Central Iowa, the January Thaw interfaith educational series, Life After Death of Spouse (LADOS), and numerous other programs and initiatives. DMARC also transitioned from an ecumenical organization to an ...

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