Our Story

At the Northeast Iowa Food Bank we are driven by our core beliefs that hunger is unacceptable; that everyone deserves access to enough food; that food sustains life and nourishes health; and that we are called to serve neighbors in need without judgement.

In 1981, several community members got together and decided there was enough need in the area to start a food pantry.  The Francis Grout School had closed and permission was granted to run the pantry out of one room in the old school house.  The Cedar Valley Food Bank was incorporated and a board of 24 directors was elected in July.  The Cedar Valley Food Bank served 1,200 households during that first period of approximately 8 months.  In 1986 we joined the National Second Harvest movement (now known as Feeding America) and we grew in one year from a pantry to a food bank serving over 100 agencies in 16 counties.

The food pantry evolved into a Food Bank, which now distributes millions of pounds of food to over 200 agencies through 16 Northeast Iowa counties.  Programs such as Kids Cafe, BackPack Program, Elderly Nutrition Boxes, Mobile Food Pantries also evolved to meet the growing needs of a growing community.

Where We Are Today

Today we serve 16 counties in northeast Iowa through our distribution center in Waterloo. We provide nutritious food to 5,800 different people weekly through a far-reaching network of over 200 food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, churches and nonprofit groups.  In 2015 we distributed 7 million pounds of food to those who are hungry in northeast Iowa.

We are members of Feeding America, a national organization supporting more than 200 food banks across the country, and the largest domestic hunger relief agency in the U.S.  We are also members of the Iowa Food Bank Association, an association of the six food banks in Iowa.
See the Northeast Iowa Food Bank’s latest Food Bank Fact Sheet 2016.

Our Mission & Vision

Our MISSION is to provide nutritious food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations and individuals in northeast Iowa, while offering hunger education programs to the area and those in need.

Our VISION is a community in which hunger is alleviated and all persons have adequate access to nutritious food.  We will strive to accomplish our mission so that food security is ultimately achieved for all households.

We are the largest organization alleviating hunger in northeast Iowa, serving communities over 12,000 square miles.

Our Service Area

Allamakee County

Black Hawk County

Bremer County

Buchanan County

Butler County

Chickasaw County

Clayton County

Delaware County

Fayette County

Floyd County

Grundy County

Howard County

Mitchell County

Poweshiek County

Tama County

Winneshiek County

Commitment To Food Safety

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank is committed to ensuring the safety of the food that we distribute to the people of northeast Iowa.  Our food safety practices are designed to guarantee best food handling practices not just in our warehouse, but also at each of our member agencies and program sites.  The Northeast Iowa Food Bank passes regular inspections by Feeding America, the FDA, USDA, and AIB.

How We Work

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank secures food and fund donations through national and local avenues including businesses, organizations, churches and individuals.  The food is brought in by the Food Bank, sorted and distributed to our over 200 partner hunger relief agencies, on-site emergency food pantries and Food Bank programs to be given to those who are hungry in northeast Iowa.

Our Strategic Plan