116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Thanks to customers who simply signed up for an online account to manage their utilities, Alliant Energy Foundation managed to raise $10,000 for Iowa food bank partners and $10,000 for Wisconsin partners.
Using Alliant’s formula of three meals per dollar, that means local food banks like the HACAP Food Reservoir in Hiawatha will giveaway thousands of meals at a time of compounded challenges for food banks.
Between May and July, Alliant Energy customers who signed up for an online account to manage their utilities sponsored the drive to help hunger at no cost to themselves. In total, 16,000 customers signed up.
This year is the second year the Alliant Energy Foundation has carried out the campaign with online “My Account” sign-ups. After the success of last year’s drive, the newer event has become part of its annual charitable traditions that donate to hunger relief.
“One of our focus areas within the foundation is hunger and housing. Hunger and food support has been a part of our giving for many years,” said Julie Bauer, executive director of Alliant Energy Foundation. “We’re always looking for creative new ways to engage with customers.”
And as customers signed up for paperless billing, they did just that.
Beneficiaries of the meal donations reflect Alliant’s presence in Iowa and Wisconsin — HACAP Food Reservoir, the Food Bank of Iowa, River Bend Food Bank, Northeast Iowa Food Bank, Second Harvest Foodbank and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. This year’s donations, in contrast to last year’s campaign, have been concentrated with a smaller number of partners to leave a greater impact; last year’s donations were split among 150 food pantries.
Donations from Alliant also will benefit mobile food pantries that serve many of the same rural communities that get their power from Alliant.
Donations like this remain critical to the work of local food banks that serve areas through retail collection routes and food purchases to supplement what can’t be procured through donations. As the demand for food assistance increases, donations from many individuals that food banks count on for support has become more strained.
HACAP Food Reservoir uses a formula of five meals per dollar received, taking into account food donations that make their dollars stretch further. In the coming year, inflation will reduce their purchasing power substantially, said Kim Guardado, director. Record inflation this year comes in addition to the myriad other unprecedented challenges facing her food bank.
“In my entire career of working with families in poverty, this is the most challenging time we’ve had,” Guardado said. “It’s kind of scary to think about what lies ahead just with changing amounts of food available for places like us.”
Despite making large strides in the fight against food insecurity before the pandemic, hunger has rebounded after pandemic supports like increased SNAP benefits and stimulus checks subsided throughout last year and this year. Now, the temporary emergency relief measures that helped families struggling with unemployment or other challenges have expired.
Guardado said some of her organization’s partner food pantries, who distribute food to neighborhoods on a more granular level, are seeing twice as many people as they saw six months ago.
“The need is increasing dramatically, and there’s much less support for people out there seeking help,” she said.
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