An organization that feeds the needy in central Iowa is putting out an urgent plea for help. The food pantry warehouse of the Des Moines Area Religious Council is being filled and emptied about twice a week.

Executive director Sarai Rice says those glowing reports about the improving economy don’t apply. “Things are still not improving,” Rice says. “We’re seeing continuing numbers of people coming on our roles so we’re feeding more and more people.”

She says the contributions are not keeping up with the need. “The economy still hasn’t improved for the people we serve,” Rice says. “Wall Street may be doing better but the people who lost their jobs or had their hours cut as a result of the recession, that still isn’t coming back yet.”

Every week, D-MARC buys or is given about 20,000 food items which are repackaged and sent to 12 area pantries, feeding about 1,800 people, but donations aren’t meeting demand. Rice says, “They’re not keeping up with the need right now, mostly because people don’t realize that there is such a huge need still out there, that there are so many people that are still struggling.”

While donations of food items are always welcome, Rice says there’s a better alternative. “We can buy so much more with your dollar than you can,” Rice says. “When you’re out there spending at a retail rate, we can make that money go a lot farther when we buy at a wholesale rate or from the food bank, so cash is really good.”

D-MARC serves 30,000 people a year, about half of whom are under 25. Food requests this year are on pace to be the highest ever, Rice says, seven-percent higher than last year.

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