The Bidwell Riverside Center served more than 16,700 individuals during the past year. Spokeswoman Alison Hanner says certain items are in constant demand at the Des Moines-based facility.
“Peanut butter is always needed and wanted,” Hanner says, “as well as canned fruits and canned vegetables.” In addition to it being the center’s busiest year, it was also the busiest March, November and December on record. She says many clients Bidwell serves lost their jobs during the pandemic and with their children learning virtually, had more mouths to feed more meals.
“Many of our clients consider toiletries luxuries, so, they can brush their teeth without toothpaste, they can take a shower without soap,” Hanner says. “When we’re able to offer toiletries, when we have a lot of donations, they’re always so incredibly appreciated.”
The pantry had offered a program for free clothing but had to shut it down during 2020.
“We just lost the majority of our volunteer base,” she says, “which is understandable because of COVID and different social distancing policies.”
The pandemic also forced a change to the entire operation to minimize exposure. Clients now choose the items they want from a sort of grocery list and volunteers deliver the goods to the clients’ vehicles.
Financial contributions are the easiest way to help Bidwell continue to feed Iowans in need. Donate by visiting: bidwellriverside.org/donate