food insecurity

courtesy of Hy-Vee

This pandemic spring has changed some pathways of getting food to hungry people, but there’s still plenty being donated and distributed to meet the increased need.

West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee, with stores in eight states, often makes donations to food banks, says Christina Gayman, director of public relations. But right now, many of its suppliers have approached the chain for help distributing their surplus. 

Courtesy of Northeast Iowa Food Bank

Some Iowa food banks and pantries are changing the way they operate to keep up with demand and help people access food while they’re home from work and school because of COVID-19.

John Pemble/IPR

In the spirit of social distancing, lawmakers are keeping their distance from the Iowa Statehouse, which could impact what's accomplished during the 2020 legislative session.

State senators Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig (left), and Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, listen to testimony about a proposal to require work for some Medicaid recipients.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Updated Thursday, February 20: The Labor and Business Relations Committee advanced a Medicaid work requirements bill (SSB 3158) Thursday, making it eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate.

courtesy DMARC

Food pantry use is up in many Midwest communities, despite a reasonably strong economy and low unemployment rate. There can be several reasons for the increased need for free food.

“What we’re seeing statewide is that we have pretty low wages in Iowa,” says Natalie Veldhouse, a research associate with the Iowa Policy Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit. “We have people who are working full-time who might not be able to make ends meet and people who are piecing together multiple part-time jobs, sometimes without benefits.”

Harvest Public Media file photo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed three changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) this year. They affect the employment requirements for adults without dependents who are able to work, whether participation in certain other programs automatically qualifies a person for SNAP and, most recently, how the standard utility deduction is taken in calculating a household’s income.

Katie Peikes / IPR

A Sioux City food pantry that is being evicted is looking at its next steps.

Staff at the Midtown Family Community Center are searching for a new home. The building they've used to serve people for the past 11 years has been sold, and they’re being evicted this month. The pantry serves more than 5,000 people each month, including at least 3,000 children.

Jason Hsu/flickr creative commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

While the school year is winding down, food insecure kids who normally rely on school lunches do have some options. There will be hundreds of meal sites across Iowa this summer where children can go to eat at no charge.

TeroVesalainen/Pixabay

The city of Jesup's only grocery store is set to close next month, leaving more than 2,700 people without a primary resource for fresh food in their community. 

courtesy DMARC

Beginning this week, agencies that help get food to hungry Iowans are expanding their services.

The Des Moines area’s DMARC Mobile Food Pantry will add four more stops to its schedule, which will provide a healthy, three-day supply of food to some people who haven’t been able to get it from other food pantry locations.

Luke Elzinga, DMARC’s communications manager, says the additional stops mean the mobile pantry will reach more of the people the agency knows are in need.

After 10 years of consistent gains, the number of immigrant families enrolled in SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, fell by 10 percent in 2018.

New, preliminary research presented this month at the American Public Health Association conference showed the drop was highest for for families who had been in the U.S for fewer than five years. It’s a reflection of what Harvest Public Media and other outlets reported earlier this year: that some families are choosing not to participate in federal benefit programs out of fear it could impact their immigration status.

World Food Prize

 

This week, British economist Lawrence Haddad and physician David Nabarro received the World Food Prize at a ceremony in the Iowa State Capitol.

 

The Des Moines-based prize honors the pair’s use of research to show political and business leaders that improving pregnant mother and child nutrition is critical to economic health. This work has been credited with reducing the number of stunted children globally by 10 million between 2012 and 2017.

 

Amy Mayer / IPR

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture first piloted a program to offer free summer meals to children. The program became a permanent fixture in 1975, and last year, schools, libraries, recreation centers and other groups in Iowa served more than 1.3 million meals and snacks to children under 18 through the Summer Food Service Program.

Feed Iowa First via facebook / facebook.com/feediowafirst

A non-profit organization that puts fresh produce on the tables of food insecure Iowans is carrying on the legacy of its late founder.