Dec 14, 2022 - News

Food Bank of Iowa says no to West Des Moines truce

Illustration of a hand reaching out for a hand shake with another hand making a stop gesture.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Mediation between West Des Moines Human Services (WDMHS) and the Food Bank of Iowa ended badly Wednesday with no agreement and no indication that the relationship can be repaired, Mayor Russ Trimble told Axios.

Why it matters: Access to thousands of pounds of food for families in crisis is indefinitely severed.

Catch up fast: The food bank is like a nonprofit wholesale distributor that gives away or sells food at a reduced price to hundreds of charities.

Zoom in: WDMHS had partnered for years with DMARC so it could access the food bank.

  • But that access ended last month because of the contract dispute.

State of play: A plan was in the works for WDM to reestablish its relationship with the food bank by using a nonprofit group established by city officials as the intermediary instead of DMARC, Trimble said.

  • Food bank director Michelle Book indicated last week the plan would work.

What's happening: Book met with WDM city manager Tom Hadden late Wednesday and informed him that the plan wouldn't work for reasons that were unclear, Trimble said.

The other side: The food bank's resources have been redeployed to new pantries and partners, Annette Hacker, a spokesperson for the group, told Axios.

  • The food bank supports other pantry sites in WDM and the board supports the decision not to reinstate WDMHS as a partner, Hacker said.

Of note: WDMHS distributes food to more than 1,300 families a month and its pantry is the largest in the city.

What's next: WDM city councilman Doug Loots says he will appeal to the individual food bank board members and, possibly, Gov. Kim Reynolds for assistance in remedying the divide.


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