Feb 15, 2023 - News

Food Bank of Iowa, DMARC enter new agreement

Michelle Book

Michelle Book, CEO of FBOI, speaks at Drake University during a press conference. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

The Food Bank of Iowa (FBOI) and the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) announced a new agreement between the organizations yesterday following months of animosity that contributed to empty pantry shelves.

Driving the news: DMARC will be allowed to rescue food once again from the FBOI's retail partners, like Aldi and Walmart, reversing a cease and desist letter from FBOI back in November.

  • DMARC is also allowed to distribute the rescued food and items to pantries not partnered with the FBOI.
  • It's unclear if the organization will have access to the same number of stores prior to the conflict.

Flashback: The new agreement comes after DMARC and several other nonprofits declined to sign a contract addendum with the FBOI in September that would have required them to provide more food to people in need than what they said they're capable of giving.

  • By requiring DMARC to provide a monthly three-day supply of food to recipients in each of their 15 pantries, officials feared they could run out of supplies.
  • DMARC partners that declined to sign the contract included the Salvation Army and IMPACT Community Action.

What’s new: Matt Unger, CEO of DMARC, said yesterday if they run into issues with FBOI's three-day supply requirement, there will be discussions between both groups on how to resolve it.

Yes, but: Nine DMARC-affiliated pantries still have not signed on to partner again with the FBOI, meaning they do not have access to the organization's wholesale food inventory and USDA food supply.

What they're saying: Anne Bacon, CEO of IMPACT, told Axios she's "optimistic" about the new agreement between the groups and is waiting to learn more about becoming a partner with the Food Bank again. She has not signed a new contract yet.

Of note: To try and end the dispute, the Des Moines City Council gave DMARC and FBOI an ultimatum in December, saying they planned to rescind $500K in aid unless the groups came to an agreement. If they could resolve their conflict, though, the council said they could get an additional $100K on top of the initial aid.

  • The council is expected to vote March 6 on final allocations.
  • Instead, Councilmember Connie Boesen told Axios yesterday she wants to give $300K to DMARC and the remaining $300K to Des Moines Public Schools to support purchasing more cultural varieties of foods for students.

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