Communications director, Danny Akright, says the Summer Food Service Program is one of the ways they get the food out.
“What we do is we identify sites before the summer begins. We inspect them, make sure that they’ll work for us and then we distribute food to those depending on the meals they are serving. Some sites will only serve one meal like breakfast or lunch. Some sites will serve lunch and dinner, something like that,” Akright says.
They served 10,000 people in the first year of the program last year. “This year we are on track to serve about 25,000 meals, so the demand is absolutely there, it’s even beyond what we can serve,” Akright says. “The more that we can increase these programs and get kids to them, the better.” The program is funded through the U.S.D.A. and the goal is to make sure kids who don’t have access to school meal programs during the summer are getting properly fed. “It’s an absolutely vital program to make sure that the kids get the nutrition that they need in the summer and return to the school in the fall ready to learn and able to grow and develop the way that they should,” according to Akright.
They also conduct mobile food pantries. “Mobile pantries are a great way for us to get food into communities that don’t have the resources of a permanent pantry. Or they have so much need in their community that the existing resources in their community aren’t adequate to meet that need,” Akright says. “What we do with those, is we’ve got a couple of different models where we will either send food up to be distributed in a parish hall or a school gymnasium or something like that. Or, a new model that we’ve just been trying this summer is a drive-through mobile pantry.” He says they’ve been conducting a drive-through pantry in Storm Lake and have been pleased with the results.
“We will drop off cases of food — prepacked boxes of food along with a bin of some fresh produce like watermelons. And the volunteers that we have there will line up and cars will pull up to the spot and we will check them off the list and load them up with food and they will be on their way,” Akright says. He says the people are given enough food to last around one week. The Food Bank of Iowa works with 488 partner agencies in 55 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
“Anybody who is interested in either receiving food from a mobile pantry or getting involved as a volunteer or host for a mobile pantry can learn more on our website at foobankiowa.org. We’ve got all that information up there and we would love for people to get involved,” Akright says. He says food donations always slow down during the summer, so they are interested in any donations you might be willing to make. The organization is headquartered in Des Moines.