"If SNAP is cut, the number of people in need will increase. "
Since 1981, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, has partnered with the community to raise awareness to the issue of hunger and make a difference in the lives of those who are hungry in northeast Iowa. We strive to ensure that all have access to food and work to close the Meal Gap. The Meal Gap is defined as what government nutrition programs don’t provide. However there is still more work to be done. There is still a need in northeast Iowa to reduce food insecurity and close the Meal Gap and we would like you to continue to assist us by advocating, volunteering or donating.
Partner with us to advocate for those voices that cannot be heard. Throughout the years, the government has put in place a strong nutrition safety net for people who need services. Yet still, many people rely on Food Bank programs as well as the programs our member agencies provide including pantries, soup kitchens, congregate meal programs, shelters and nonprofit daycares.
One of those federal nutrition programs is SNAP. SNAP is the first line of defense for food-insecure households. There is a proposed rule change to Categorical Eligibility. Changing the Categorical Eligibility rule, as some are proposing, would eliminate SNAP benefits for many in northeast Iowa. The rule change would gut our state’s options to eliminate the SNAP asset test If USDA enacted this asset test, it would eliminate SNAP benefits for the people we serve.
If SNAP is cut, the number of people in need will increase. This has proven true time and time again. It means more people will need the programs we provide and we will need the community’s help more than ever. Those who are affected are working and having a hard time making ends meet. These are kids who need our help on the weekends through the BackPack program. It is people who are choosing between eating and paying for their car repairs. You can help us advocate by opposing this rule change.
Volunteering is another way you can partner with us to make a difference in northeast Iowa. Whether it is an hour a year, month, week or day, all of it makes a difference. Helping with food pick-ups or deliveries; sorting food, helping with an event, or giving of your time is one of the most selfless things you can do that will help us help those who are hungry. On any given day volunteers provide the equivalent of 14 FTE’s at the Food Bank while providing their skills in this partnership together. And recently we became Service Enterprise Certified, by the Volunteer Center of the Cedar Valley which means we leverage volunteers to operational efficiency. Volunteers give back and help us be as efficient as possible.
Another way to partner with us is by donating to the Food Bank to ensure we can provide the programs to people who need food most. Your donations can help us leverage food donations. Funding is used to bring in donated product from retailers, wholesalers, other food banks, farmers, gardeners and manufacturers. Over 60% of the product we bring in is either perishable or protein items which help fill the stomachs of those who are hungry. The community assists us in raising the needed resources allowing us to reduce food waste and increasing access to the most nutritious food possible. The Food Bank is fortunate to have many people assisting us in acquiring the necessary resources but the problem isn’t solved, we still need your partnership.
The community has acted and we are grateful. Over the past few years, I am happy to report that because of your actions, the number of people who are food insecure is just over 43,000 and the Meal Gap is now 7.4 million meals and we are providing 6.9 million meals. But we need your help now more than ever; please continue to help raise awareness. You can advocate, volunteer and donate, by contacting the Food Bank at 319-235-0507 or www.northeastiowafoodbank.org. Food Insecurity isn’t going away, but because of our partnership with you-the community-something is and can be done about it.
By Barbara Prather, Executive Director, Northeast Iowa Food Bank