Iowa’s Largest Food Bank Bracing for Another Demand Peak

(Radio Iowa) The Food Bank of Iowa is expected to release its latest demand figures this week for the 55 counties it serves statewide. Michelle Book, the non-profit’s CEO, says she expects another big boost in those needing a hand, based on several factors which are putting more pressure on families with already tight budgets.

“We have crisis in the Middle East pushing up fuel prices again,” Book says. “We still are seeing inflation with food prices. I was with USDA last week and they said we’ll see continued food price increases at least through the next upcoming year.” While a federal government shutdown was avoided a few weeks ago, Book fears the continuing resolution only delayed the inevitable, with another shutdown looming shortly before Thanksgiving.

“We’re very concerned that the Congress will not be able to come to an agreement, that we’ll have some sort of shutdown for a period of time with the federal government,” Book says. “So excited and happy that they averted that but, this only kicks the can down the road until November 17th.” Programs that are vital to Iowans putting food on their tables will face disruption or shutdowns themselves if the federal government closes down next month.

“When WIC benefits, Women, Infants and Children, and SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, when those programs are threatened or cease, that pushes more people into community pantries and meal sites,” Book says, “and then, of course, the pressure trickles down to the Food Bank of Iowa to make sure that we can fill those shelves.” Reports show the WIC program alone is used in all 99 Iowa counties and reached more than 64,000 participants in 2020.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City