Demand is exceeding supply at an organization that provides food for the poor across a large portion of western Iowa. Food Bank for the Heartland spokesperson Brian Barks says the shortage is at a “crisis level” as donations have declined.
“We’re not turning people away. We are just not able to distribute as much as we would like,” Barks said. “Through the month of July, our distribution was up approximately 25% while our donations were flat. That is a trend that can’t continue.”
Flooding and other natural disasters have caused several shipments by suppliers to miss the Omaha-based Food Bank. Barks says federal budget cuts and the floundering economy have also contributed to the food shortage.
The Food Bank’s service area covers more than 200,000 people who are described as “food insecure” – including 92,000 children. To make sure kids get enough to eat over the weekend, when school lunch is not available, food is sent home with children on Friday. Barks says more requests are coming in all the time.
“We have a Backpack Program that supplies kids at risk for hunger at schools throughout our service area. Last year, we (served) 3,000 students a week. This school year, with no new schools signing up, we’ve had requests for 3,700,” Barks said.
The Food Bank for the Heartland distributes food to more than 350 food pantries in 77 counties in Nebraska and 16 in western Iowa. Barks says they can purchase a lot of food through donations and can make $1 stretch for three meals.