DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Public Schools offer free breakfast and lunch for all students in the district.  But even beyond that, for many students there was still not enough food at home to eat.

“We noticed on the weekends children will come to back school saying that they didn’t eat, or they didn’t have food at home,” said Mariah Button, Community School Coordinator for Walnut Street School, “That was something that we wanted to address.

Button has been in the Community Coordinator position since January. She moved here from rural Minnesota, where there also is a food desert. So finding not enough food here was not expected.

“Yes I was surprised that there was a need”, said Button. “There’s a lot of different food banks and organizations that help us. I know there’s a lot of churches around the area that do Wednesday night meals things like that, but sometimes families don’t have access to that.”

So she set out to visit with anyone who could donate to this Walnut Street School Food Pantry

“So when I started we just did food rescue, so I went out to a couple businesses that have restaurants,” said Button. “Bob King from Prep King was one of our first ones. I said what if I came once a week and I picked up all your extra meals, he loved that idea.”

Now she can reach into a freezer to send complete meals home with students.

She also seeks winter coats and shoes and school supplies to give to her students who need something.

If you would like to donate to Walnut Street School, and Downtown Elementary contact Mariah Button at