The Food Bank of Iowa based in Des Moines announced a merger Monday with the Food Bank of Southern Iowa that’s based in Ottumwa.

Spokesman Danny Akright says its southern Iowa counterpart has served as a redistribution organization for Food Bank of Iowa since 2012. “Their truck is up here, our trucks are down there working with each other day in and day out. Our staffs are getting to know each other even better getting prepared for this merger It just is kind of a natural next step for the two organizations,” Akright says.

Akright says the southern Iowa organization has around one dozen employees, while there are 25 in central Iowa, and the merger won’t impact that. “It’s not going to change much on a day-to-day basis yet. Food Bank of Southern Iowa is going to keep all of their staff. they are going to keep their equipment, their warehouse down in Ottumwa, their trucks. We really are going to keep things going as they are,” Akright says. “But the purpose of the merger right now is for what is right now kind of a small food bank in a small area with not a lot of resources around it to benefit from the larger resources that we have access to.”

He says it will allow them to do a better job in helping Iowans. “We have a lot more food producers, a lot more sources of food donations that they do down in Ottumwa,” Akright explains. “So we are able to share those with them and ultimately to help those people in need in those 13 counties more effectively.”

Akright says thousands of people will benefit from the merger. “They do have some more significant populations — they have Burlington, Keokuk, Fort Madison, Ottumwa, Oskaloosa — those are all within the service area that the Food Bank of Southern Iowa serves now,” according to Akright. “We do have a fair amount of population down there and a fair amount of need. So we are ready to work and ready to serve all of the people in the 55 counties that we’ll have together.”

Akright says they are expecting to have the merger completed by the first of the year.