This weekend will mark the 30th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive in Iowa.
Dutch Geisinger, deputy director of Polk County Emergency Management, says it’s very easy for Iowa households to take part in the effort. “There are several ways that you can do that,” Geisinger says. “Really, you can place a bag filled with food or non-perishable food items or things that have a longer lifespan, put those out and the postal carriers will pick those up and deliver them. It’s our effort to just help get food out to those that can’t necessarily afford things.”
One of this year’s recipients of the food in Iowa is DMARC, the Des Moines Area Religious Council, an interfaith organization with a mission of working together to meet basic human needs in central Iowa. After more than two years of the pandemic, Geisinger says many such agencies are in critical need.
“It’s been a really tough time,” Geisinger says. ”
DMARC has been a great partner and supporter of our organization through the pandemic. We watched the food pantries really deplete their supplies and this is a really great effort that we can all help with to replenish those supplies.” Luke Elzinga, a spokesman for DMARC, says COVID-19 put a serious dent in their efforts to help people in need, and Stamp Out Hunger had to be pushed back.
“The last few years, it’s been on hiatus due to the pandemic but in 2019, it brought in over 66,000 pounds of food for our food pantry network,” Elzinga says. “It’s just a huge event and we’re just so grateful for the National Association of Letter Carriers to do this event for us.” The challenges of the pandemic pushed many people into difficult positions and last year alone, DMARC served more than 40,000 central Iowans who were food insecure.
“Starting in April, people’s SNAP benefits were reduced in the state of Iowa and as all of your listeners will know, food prices and fuel costs are just really high right now,” Elzinga says. “Last month, we saw over 1,000 people use our food pantries for the first time ever.” Bags of food should be placed beside your mailbox — either by the house or at the curb — on Saturday morning. During its previous 29 years, the food drive has brought in more than one point-eight billion pounds of food nationwide.