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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Bidwell Riverside Food Pantry on the south side of Des Moines says 99,000 Polk County residents are food insecure. With more than 4,000 individuals using the pantry every month, space was getting a little cramped, so they decided to add a 720 square foot expansion.

“With this expansion we now have more room for people to be waiting in, especially when it’s cold we had people that were waiting outside at times,” Bidwell Riverside Food Pantry Executive Director Tim Shanahan said.

The expansion also gives staff and clients more privacy when doing intakes. Now there is designated space to ask questions about employment, income, etc. It also means there is more room for the products. Bidwell Riverside is a choice pantry operated under DMARC the Des Moines Area Religious Council. Individuals and families can choose a three-day supply of food, personal items and clothes once per calendar month.

Last year the Bidwell Riverside Food Pantry served more than 16,000 people.

“Our economy is doing really well now, but that doesn’t necessarily help those that are very low income, rents are so high in the Des Moines metro area so sometimes for a family or household it could be, am I going to be able to pay my rent or am I going to be able to buy the food that I need for my family,” Shanahan said.

The majority of the food comes from DMARC, the Des Moines Area Religious Council. The Iowa Food Bank is another partner and then they receive donations from Hy-Vee and the public. Shanahan hopes the community understands how prominent food insecurity is in the metro.

“It’s so important to be able to support organizations like DMARC and the Food Bank, and then also pantries such as ourselves, we’re the ones that are actually giving out the food and this is probably about a $160,000 operation for me to run this pantry,” Shanahan said.

The public is invited to attend a ribbon cutting of the expansion on April 10, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. at the pantry at 1203 Hartford Avenue in Des Moines.