DMARC food pantry network sets single-day record
The Des Moines Area Religious Council’s food pantry network set a single-day record for people served on Tuesday.
According to DMARC officials, the food pantry network helped 1,725 people on Tuesday, outpacing the previous records of 1,529 set on Nov. 1, 2022, and 1,659 on Jan. 3. Officials also said the margin of increase seen on Tuesday is unprecedented.
The new single-day record followed a month where the DMARC food pantry network helped 19,305 people, a 35% increase over April 2022.
“These are uncharted waters for us,” said DMARC CEO Matt Unger. “What we feared would be happening a year ago is now becoming a reality. Many of the people who are utilizing the DMARC Food Pantry Network right now have never done so before.”
The record is part of a trend as more Iowans seek food assistance. Traffic at food pantries has continued to rise since April 2022, when SNAP benefits for many Iowans decreased as much as $200 a month.
April marked the 12th consecutive month where a monthly record was set for first-time visitors to DMARC’s food pantry network, which is made up of 15 partner food pantry sites and numerous mobile food pantry sites.
Unger said the continued increases in food pantry traffic come as food programs through schools prepare to shut down during the summer.
He also expressed concern about the effect of a bill passed by the Legislature should it be signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
“It will only add insult to injury for the thousands of Iowans who are currently struggling to keep their head above water,” Unger said.
According to Unger, the bill would remove approximately 2,800 Iowans from SNAP and other public assistance programs because of additional administrative hurdles it would create.
Enrollment in SNAP is at a 14-year low, with fraudulent enrollment making up only a fraction of a percent, a news release from DMARC stated.
“While we can’t predict the future, there is nothing on the horizon that will positively impact the numbers we are seeing,” Unger said. “This kind of need will take a communitywide effort to combat. Every individual effort makes a difference – no matter how small.”
Part of that effort is the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive on Saturday, May 13. On that day, people can set out healthy, nonperishable food items that will be picked up by a U.S. postal mail carrier. Donations can also be made to DMARC that will be credited to Stamp Out Hunger.
Michael Crumb is a senior staff writer at Business Record. He covers economic development, transportation, energy & environment, culture, sales & marketing.