Dec 19, 2022 - News

Des Moines gives dueling food pantry networks an ultimatum

Illustration of an senior citizen holding a small bag of groceries hand

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Des Moines City Council will vote to rescind $500,000 to the metro's two largest nonprofit food assistance networks — Food Bank of Iowa and the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) — if they fail to resolve a contract dispute by Dec. 31.

Yes, but: If the two groups meet the deadline, they will get an extra $100,000 between them, according to a memo obtained by Axios that was sent to the groups Friday by city manager Scott Sanders.

  • Sanders made the offer with the unanimous backing of the DSM city council.

Why it matters: About a dozen metro pantries lost access Nov. 2 to free or cheap food because of the dispute.

  • Thousands of families who face food insecurity use those facilities each month.

ICYMI: Food Bank of Iowa dispute results in crisis for families in need

Zoom in: Other metro officials are also calling for a food truce.

  • Mediation efforts in West Des Moines with food bank CEO Michelle Book ended badly last week with Mayor Russ Trimble saying there’s no indication that the relationship can be repaired.

What they're saying now: Nothing.

  • It serves no purpose to speculate, food bank spokesperson Annette Hacker told Axios' inquiry about DSM's offer.
  • DMARC officials didn't respond.

By the numbers: The money DSM is threatening to yank has not yet been given to the two food groups. It comes from federal pandemic funds that were allocated this year by the city.

  • DMARC is set to get $300K and the food bank would get $200K.
  • The additional bonus would come from city budgets.

What's next: WDM officials have invited both groups to a Tuesday meeting organized by Councilperson Doug Loots.


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