Jun 21, 2022 - News

Des Moines food bank sees spike in demand after SNAP benefits reduced

Illustration of a place setting with a plate in the shape of Iowa.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) is seeing a spike in demand at its food pantries and there are no signs it will stop anytime soon, its CEO Matt Unger told Axios.

State of play: Reduced benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also referred to as food stamps, coupled with inflated fuel and grocery costs are resulting in droves of people seeking help from local food banks, Unger said.

  • SNAP benefits were bolstered by the federal government during the pandemic, but Iowa chose to return to its normal levels in April, resulting in at least $95 a month less for more than 150,000 Iowa families.

By the numbers: Following the end of the additional SNAP benefits, DMARC's number of food bank recipients increased by 42% in April in comparison to last year, he said.

  • There was a 60% increase in May. June is on pace for a 75% increase in comparison to last year.
  • Its single busiest day in the last two years was June 2, where 1,345 people were helped.
  • There's also a big increase in first-time users — April and May had over 1,000 people receive help for the first time.

What they're saying: These recipient numbers more closely resemble demand in the month of November, which is historically the busiest month for food banks. But families are now having to work with less.

  • "Our dollars don't stretch as far as they used to," Unger said.

The bottom line: Giving people food doesn't solve food insecurity, Unger said.

  • The bigger issue is addressing why people are being driven to food banks and addressing problems like inflation and wage levels.

How to help: You can volunteer for DMARC, donate food or give money here.


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