Jan 5, 2023 - News

Des Moines pantries still have no Food Bank access, despite agreement

Illustration of a place setting, with the plate cracked like dry land.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

About a dozen metro Des Moines still don't have access to Food Bank of Iowa services.

  • That's despite a Dec. 22 statement to the city council that said groups involved in a contract dispute had agreed to "immediate collaboration," multiple food assistance officials told Axios this week.

Why it matters: There's big money on the line and it affects thousands of families who struggle with food insecurity.

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.

  • Food bank officials ended services to most Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) food pantries in November over a contract dispute.

What's happening: The Des Moines City Council unanimously warned the groups last month that failure to resolve the problems by Dec. 31 would result in reconsideration of $500,000 in federal aid that had not yet been given to them by the city.

  • City Manager Scott Sanders, citing the Dec. 22 letter, indicated a week later that the city would move forward with the federal aid pledge.

Yes, but: The contract disputes aren't resolved, Axios confirmed this week.

  • Only four of DMARC's 15 pantries are currently partnered with the food bank, the bank's spokesperson Annette Hacker said.
  • That's nearly the same as prior to Dec. 22.

Zoom in: Groups affiliated with DMARC pantries are taking a hit.

  • West Des Moines Human Services plans to sign an agreement with the food bank in the next week but that'll likely require new investments in additional staffing, freezers and refrigerators to keep food bank and DMARC food separated, Mayor Russ Trimble told Axios.
  • The Salvation Army continues to have no food bank access, including rescue items from retailers like Target, and that's left homeless populations without some supplies, Major Butch Frost told Axios.

What's next: The DSM City Council meets Monday but it remains unclear what, if any, actions or direction it might take on the matter.

  • Council members Carl Voss and Connie Boesen told Axios they are seeking more specifics about ending the contract dispute.

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