Iowa governor: 354,000 Iowans face food insecurity during pandemic

The Food Bank of Iowa's distribution center in east Des Moines. (Photo courtesy of Food Bank of Iowa)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has created a task force to address residents’ food insecurity during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg will lead the ad hoc panel, the Feeding Iowans Task Force. Included will be representatives of the Food Bank of Iowa, Volunteer Iowa and state departments involved in responding to the pandemic.

Reynolds said 354,000 Iowans already are facing food insecurity. 

“Now these people may be facing loss of jobs, children home from schools, and difficulty making ends meet,” Reynolds said. 

The task force will work to coordinate resources. 

Six Feeding America food banks and 1,200 partner organizations provided 38 million meals to Iowans last year, but now face an unusual set of challenges, Reynolds said. They are moving to serve a larger clientele, she added. 

Reynolds said anyone who needs help should visit a local food bank or pantry or check

Food pantries and food banks have been helping 65% more people with applications for food assistance than at this time last year, when the coronavirus wasn’t an issue, the governor said. But with restaurants only offering delivery or carryout orders and grocery stores subjected to hoarding, less surplus food has been available to food banks. 

In addition, 40% of food bank volunteers are older Iowans who now are staying home as recommended by state and federal health officials. 

The federal CARES Act will provide aid for food banks and similar facilities, Reynolds noted. 

The governor thanked businesses and organizations that have donated food or cash to help food banks. For example, MidAmerican Energy donated $500,000. Corteva Agriscience made a matching grant of $100,000 for food assistance. Iowa Farm Bureau Foundation donated $100,000 to food programs. 

Egg farmers offered 35,000 dozen eggs per month. AE Dairy donated milk to schools. The beef and pork associations, the Lynch Family Foundation, Smithfield Foods and the Iowa have donated food or cash.