The pandemic has changed some pathways of getting food to hungry Iowans, but tons are still being donated and distributed.
West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee often makes donations to food banks, yet many suppliers have approached the grocery chain for help distributing the surplus. Hy-Vee’s Christina Gayman says the wholesalers need assistance to reach consumers.
Gayman says, “They know that we have either the food bank contacts or the media contacts to share this information in local communities.”
Hy-Vee arranged no-contact hand-outs of mangoes, carrots and bananas in several communities and also coordinated a 40,000-pound donation of melons to the Food Bank of Iowa. Food bank director Michelle Book says many food pantries benefited. “It is not difficult for us to find a home for food right now,” Book says, noting the wholesale donations help meet the increased food demand.
When restaurants shut down, some food suppliers had ready-to-eat items they couldn’t sell. Book says sometimes large donations had to be split up, like 25-pound tubs of hard-boiled eggs. “We were able to break those down into family-size portions and then get them out to our food pantries for people to take home and eat,” Book says. “Where they would have had it at a restaurant, they’re now eating it at home.”
She says the Food Bank also has received large donations of lunch meat from delis. A report from Feeding America says nearly 342,000 Iowans are food insecure, with more than 111-thousand of them being children.
(By Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio)