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A food crisis unfolds in Iowa
The region’s food banks and meal delivery services are facing a dire situation. Just listen to the people who are trying to feed hungry Eastern Iowans.
“There is a perfect storm of reduced donations, reduced USDA foods as well as increasing prices for the foods we purchase,” said Kim Guardado, food reservoir director at HACAP in Cedar Rapids.
“We try to pass along our best prices to partners that purchase food from us at bulk rates. Since other sources of revenue are no longer available we have not been able to subsidize the costs of food as much as we had in the past. So with decreased food donations, less USDA foods and more funds being spent on purchased foods, pantries are not able to have the supply of food that is needed to meet the increasing demand,” she said.
“We are contracted to provide 194,000 (Older Americans Act) home delivered meals in Fiscal year 2023. We will deliver 210,000 meals to OAA meal recipients this year. Home delivered meals will have a funding shortage of approximately $136,915 or an 16,203 overage in meals in the fiscal year ending June 30. This overage is occurring despite reducing the number of meals allowed per client from two per day to one per day,” said Mike Barnhart, CEO of Horizons which administers Meals on Wheels.
“CommUnity Food Bank is currently distributing about 6,000 pounds of food to around 200 households per day,” said Sarah Nelson CEO of CommUnity Crisis Services in Iowa City. She said in addition to an increase in visits, in-kind donations of food products are down 43 percent compared to last year.
These are the organizations that feed people in need. They’re sending out a warning signal that without donations of both food and funding, they will be unable to adequately address those needs. Eastern Iowans must heed the call and do what they can to make sure scores of people don’t slide into hunger in a state that prides itself on feeding the world.
The situation is likely to get worse. We see no sign that Gov. Kim Reynolds will not sign a bill setting asset limits and erecting new bureaucratic barriers to Iowans seeking federal food help through the SNAP program. It was ill-conceived legislation coming at the worst time for these families, most of which include elderly and disabled Iowans and children.
We urge Gov. Kim Reynolds to veto the legislation. Instead, we urge her to convene a solutions-oriented task force that works to solve hunger issues in the spirit of Norman Borlaug — who believed confronting hunger and poverty would bring people together across political, religious, ethnic or diplomatic divides
Local food banks and meals delivery services will need to fill the gap, and they are currently ill-equipped to do so. They are agencies of last resort. If hungry Iowans can’t access food through these nonprofits, they’ll find themselves in a desperate situation.
If political leaders can’t step up to recognize the looming storm, it’s up to us.
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