Dec 21, 2022 - News

Food Bank of Iowa tries to repair relationship with West Des Moines

WDM fridge

An empty fridge at West Des Moines Human Services on Dec. 14. Photo courtesy of Doug Loots

Food Bank of Iowa officials say they're offering a new partnership with the West Des Moines Human Services food pantry, though city officials aren't ready to say yes yet.

Driving the news: The food bank has become embroiled in controversy due to an ongoing contract dispute with 11 Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) food pantries, which includes the pantry in West Des Moines.

  • The dispute has resulted in local families losing access to fresh foods through the Food Bank of Iowa, said WDM City Councilman Doug Loots.

What's new: Food Bank of Iowa CEO Michelle Book released a statement yesterday saying she is extending an offer to resume a partnership with West Des Moines after declining to negotiate before.

The details: The proposed agreement allows the Food Bank of Iowa to partner with West Des Moines outside of its DMARC affiliation.

  • The pantry would abide by the Food Bank's new rule requiring a minimum monthly distribution of a three-day supply of food to visitors.
  • DMARC did not sign on to the new rule, saying it would empty them of their food supply because it requires families to be allowed to visit all its locations.

Yes, but: Loots said he doesn't want the city to separate and work alone with the Food Bank of Iowa, saying it could undermine the rest of the metro's pantries.

  • He would like a more collaborative partnership with the food bank and said multiple stakeholders want to create a "working group" to promote more conversation.

What they're saying: Loots said the suburb's pantry wants specific assistance restored, such as access to rescued food from stores and USDA commodities, which hasn't been promised yet.

  • Mayor Russ Trimble told Axios he's hopeful the pantry will be able to restore the majority of its fresh food back into its fridges.

Of note: No representatives from the Food Bank of Iowa attended a public meeting Tuesday night regarding the situation.

What's next: Trimble is expected to meet with Book again this week before taking any action.


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