Governor Kim Reynolds says $3.5 million of the state’s federal pandemic response money will be used to support food banks and other efforts to feed needy Iowans.
“Covid-19 has been one of those times when we’ve seen food insecurity skyrocket,” Reynolds said yesterday. “More Iowans than ever have required food assistance.”
One million dollars will be used to buy shelf-stable food like rice, oatmeal and pasta in bulk. AmeriCorps volunteers will break it down into consumer-sized packages.
“That allows us to purchase the product at bulk prices in large quantifies, outside the normal supply chains, and hedge against future disruptions,” said Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, who has been leading the state’s Feeding Iowa task force.
Another $1 million go to directly to Iowa food banks “to assist with the increased costs and challenges they’re facing with food acquisition during this time and also to cover increased supply costs,” Gregg said. “For example, the shift to pre-
boxing the food has created significant additional costs, along with increased sanitation costs during the pandemic.”
A million dollars more will be used to help needy Iowans buy fresh produce. The “double up food bucks” program is for Iowans who qualify for food stamps — for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets or grocery stores.
“We feel this is a particularly good investment because it both helps Iowans in need,” Gregg said, “and it also helps our specialty crop farmers who tend to sell at farmers’ markets and have experienced disruptions in their businesses as well.”
Half a million dollars is set aside to support the slaughter and processing of donated pigs and cattle that would otherwise be euthanized. The “pass the pork” program set up in early May is providing fresh meat to Iowa food banks and food pantries. Local meat lockers are processing the meat and the lieutenant governor says the Iowa State University meat lab is working on the project, too.
“We’re also working on solutions to support donations from turkey, egg and dairy producers,” Gregg said.
All of these “mini-supply chains” will boost the amount of food that’s available for hungry Iowans, Gregg said.
According to the Feeding America organization, there’s been a 63 percent increase in demand at U.S. food banks and food pantries as millions of Americans became unemployed or were furloughed because of the pandemic.