DES MOINES, Iowa — The government shutdown is putting new pressures on food pantries. The Des Moines Area Religious Council’s (DMARC) mobile food pantry is launching four new sites this week.
DMARC says, through research, it continues to identify pockets of food insecurity in the community and develop partnerships to bring the mobile food pantry directly to the people who need it most. DMARC is trying to make it easier to reach people and be able to provide them with food.
Amy Reimers has been volunteering at DMARC for four years, and during that time, the need in the community has continued to increase.
“Giving your time here is really rewarding,” said Reimers. “You see the food go through, and how much need there is for food. People need to eat, and it’s coming and going on the trucks, you know. It’s well used and it’s very much appreciated by everyone I think.”
Reimers’ daughter Hailey and Hailey’s friend Maricruz are also giving their time to help out and volunteer.
“It’s important to volunteer because if there weren’t any volunteers, then a lot of things wouldn’t get done,” said Reimers. “It’s good for your heart and your mind, and it’s great to help other people that are little bit less fortunate.”
And DMARC says more volunteers are needed.
“We need volunteers to help with all the additional sites,” said Joe Dolack, DMARC Mobile Food Pantry program manager. “We have seven more sites that will be active by the end of next month, and we have dozens more that are in the works of being active. We’re hoping to get up to 35 to 40 sites total between the DMARC Mobile Food Pantries, all three of them, in conjunction with the boys and girls clubs as well.”
And with the impact of the government shutdown, the need at food pantries may be even greater than usual, with the funding of food stamp or SNAP benefits in question.
“Right now it’s not clear if SNAP benefits for March have the funding right now due to the shutdown,” said Luke Elzinga, Communications & Advocacy Manager for DMARC. “So, right now the USDA hasn’t said anything about March. We do know that they have $3 billion in reserve funding for SNAP, but that would not be enough for an entire month. So it’s a little uncertain at this point.”