URBANDALE, Iowa — Long lines of shoppers in late November typically mean business is booming.
“We had a line out the door all day long. I don’t think there was a break.” But Urbandale Food Pantry Director Patty Sneddon-Kisting says the lines leading up to the pantry just days before Thanksgiving symbolize the real-life struggle Iowans are facing. “The cost of food, the cost of gas, inflation, there’s a variety of factors impacting our families,” said Sneddon-Kisting.
According to the Farm Bureau, those increased costs include a 20% increase in Thanksgiving dinner compared to a year ago. It is also an increase of almost $2 per pound on a turkey. It has tightened the budgets of Iowans like Celine Lee of Des Moines. “We are living in hard times,” said Lee.
The pantry is open Monday through Thursday and again on Saturdays. This free pantry is allowing Celine to have the Thanksgiving her family has been looking forward to. “It means a lot. I can cook for my family and some of the people that live next door to me. I don’t even know them but I like to cook for my neighbors and they appreciate it,” Lee said.
The pantry has been serving the Urbandale community since 2008. It has been serving the Polk County community since 2016 but never in its 14-year history has it reached record levels as it did on Monday, November 21. The pantry set a single-day record of serving over 140 families. It reached its monthly record of serving over 1,500.
When it comes to filling up their trucks another single-day record was set on Monday with over 6,000 pounds of food donated. Sneddon-Kisting said, “Those are never records that we want to break but I’m glad we can be here to do that.”
Keeping up with record demand falls on the joyfully dedicated shoulders of volunteers. “Our staff and volunteers are amazing and just really the backbone of what we do,” said Sneddon-Kisting.
It has also helped to have a community that shows a giving heart year-round. Sneddon-Kisting said, “We had some individuals, instead of trick-or-treating they picked up cans of food from their neighbors instead of candy and then brought that all and donated it in.”
Despite the struggle, Lee knows the pantry will help continue keeping her guests at the dinner table calling for seconds. “Oh, my dressing and my turkey yes. Also my sweet potato pies.”
A community giving what it can so others can give thanks. “It is the season of giving and that time of year. We appreciate it,” said Sneddon-Kisting.
The Urbandale Food Pantry has also given out over 1,000 turkeys in the month of November.