DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowans are getting back to work in numbers the state hasn’t seen since 1970s. With unemployment at just 3% in April the economy looks to be back on track but local food banks are seeing a different reality.
In April of 2020, a minimum of $95 was added to a household’s monthly SNAP benefits from the US Department of Agriculture. That relief finally ended last month for Iowans. Leaders at the Food Bank of Iowa say despite more Iowans punching the clock at work many are struggling when it comes to feeding their families.
“Iowa does not have a jobs shortage. Iowa has a living wage jobs shortage. The median living wage in Iowa today is $19.19. If you are a single mom with two kids just trying to cover the barest of necessities you need to be making $24.13,” said Food Bank of Iowa President and CEO Michelle Book.
This past March was the last month of the added benefits. In March, over $69 million in food assistance was provided to over 142,000 Iowa households. In April, when the increased benefits were cut off, just over $39 million in assistance was given to nearly the same amount of households which was over 141,000. Food Bank of Iowa serves fifty-five of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties. Book says all families using SNAP lost at least $95 a month and some as much as $230 a month in added benefit dollars.
With inflation over the last year jumping to 8.5% Book says food insecurity in Iowa is only getting worse as Iowa businesses seem to be getting back to normal. “At the Food Bank of Iowa, we are seeing orders double. We’ve doubled truck routes and we are pulling orders every day that are bigger than the orders we say before April 1st.”
To help feed the need outside of the metro, the Food Bank of Iowa mobile distribution team will be set up in Bancroft and Belmond on Tuesday, May 24. Pocahontas, Storm Lake, and Wapello on Wednesday and Thursday they’ll be in Jewell and Rockwell City.
Anyone in need of assistance and resources can find them at www.foodbankiowa.org and clicking on the “Get Help,” tab.