The Food Bank of Iowa is releasing a first-ever report on the extent of its outreach and the types of people it serves. The Food Bank helps more than 13-thousand Iowans a week and nearly 54-thousand a year, about a third of whom are under 18. Executive director Karen Ford says three-quarters have incomes below the poverty line and 39-percent of the households served have at least one employed adult.
She says that’s important as it flies in the face of the stereotype that people who get that sort of help aren’t out there looking for jobs — they’re actually working but can’t make it on their wages. Ford says one of the biggest changes is in the perception the food bank serves men wandering in off the street. She says it’s much more family-oriented in helping the working poor.
With the promise of warmer weather arriving soon, Ford was asked if the Food Bank’s job may get a bit easier. She says it actually gets harder over the next several weeks as people are worried about paying their taxes and charitable contributions are exactly at the top of their lists. The survey shows 40-percent of Food Bank clients had to chose between paying for food and paying for utilities.
Also, 41-percent are receiving food stamps. Fifty-nine-percent of pantries and 66-percent of soup kitchens report an increase in clients since 2001. The non-profit Food Bank of Iowa distributes grocery products through a network of 280 groups in 42 counties.