Des Moines food pantry operator expanding to meet demand
The Des Moines Area Religious Council is raising money to relocate its headquarters, a move organizers say will triple its size and help more Iowans experiencing food insecurity.
Why it matters: DMARC's food pantries saw a spike in need at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that demand continues today.
- But the organization, which is currently at capacity, has had to turn away donations because of lack of space.
For example: The other day, DMARC was set to receive a truck full of strawberries — an expensive donation valued at $50,000, DMARC CEO Matthew Unger said.
- The organization didn't have enough storage space to accept it.
- Capital City Fruit stepped in and helped keep it overnight, but there are times the group would have to say no to the donation, Unger explained.
By the numbers: In 2020, DMARC saw a record-number of people come in for food assistance, helping a total of 58,707 individuals.
- Between FY 2008 and FY 2020, the number of individuals who came in for help increased by 105% — 104,280 visits to 214,055 visits.
What they're saying: The organization is looking to move its headquarters from downtown Des Moines to the city's Southside.
- The new space, at 100 Army Post Road, offers more storage space for food, particularly perishables that require refrigeration, Unger said.
- It's especially important now as DMARC tries to purchase more wholesale items at deeper discounts.
Between the lines: The organization is worried about the end of the federal emergency declaration that allowed food stamp recipients to spend 25% more on food.
Other unique amenities: The additional space will also serve as a permanent food pantry, offering another location people can go in the Southside.
- They also want to regularly offer a farmers market-style pantry outside, which gives people more fresh food options.
What's ahead: DMARC hopes to move into the new location by next spring.
- It's trying to raise $5.6 million to support the new space. While the group hopes to sell its downtown location at 1435 Mulberry Street for around $3 million, they're fundraising for the remainder.
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