• The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Help Make Sure Everybody Eats

April 14, 2020

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Everybody needs to eat and all food starts at the farm. To continue my look at the ways that food makes it to our plates, I set up a socially distanced, quarantine-worthy discussion with Michelle Book, President, and CEO of the Food Bank of Iowa. Michelle is the woman leading the organization that feeding the growing number of food-insecure people during the pandemic.

According to the USDA, 11.1 percent of households were food insecure at some point during 2018. That is an estimated 1 in 9 Americans who were food insecure, equating to over 37 million Americans, including more than 11 million children.  Just turn on the news for a few minutes and it’s not hard to guess that it is much greater right now which led us to dig in deeper. 

Michelle is from a farm family and has carried that connection through her career, spanning organizations such as Pioneer and John Deere.  Four years ago she landed at the Food Bank of Iowa and has been working to strengthen the organization since then.  As we talked it is clear she is a knowledgeable and strong leader who is in the exact right position to be helping fight hunger and food insecurity in this unprecedented time. 

We talked through the harsh realities of the situation today and here are a few of my takeaways…

  1. The Food Bank of Iowa serves 55 counties in Iowa, from Minnesota to Missouri and then east to Illinois.  While the Food Bank of Iowa covers part of Iowa, Michelle wants everyone to know that every single county in the U.S. has a food pantry that is accessible right now.  The Food Bank of Iowa's mission is to source free and low-cost food, keep it safe and distribute it to partner agencies - there are 625 of these partner agencies which are the local food pantries that exist in towns right around us.  Again, all states have these and you can find the details for your state at Feeding America.
  2. Every dollar provides four meals…so if you can give just one dollar, you are making a difference.  If you can’t give a dollar, consider giving an hour to your local food pantry or state food bank.  It matters.
  3. The Food Bank of Iowa provides food for homeless shelters, daycares, halfway houses, adult daycares, after school programs and boys and girls programs.  Additionally, right now they are serving meals to kids who are displaced from school and don’t have enough food at home even outside of this crisis.
  4. Before COVID they were distributing about 1.5 million pounds of food a month…now they are seeing need spike to three times that OR MORE and they don’t foresee the need ending soon.
  5. Last, this current situation is changing the lives of millions of people.  It’s OK to reach out if you find yourself needing help.  Everyone has to ask for help at some point so if you need it, know that your food bank or local food pantry is there.
  6. Thank you to the farmers, ranchers, and workers throughout the food chain who are working to get the food out of the fields and onto our plates. 
  7. While I know that everyone’s situation is different, as Michelle said, if you can give a dollar or an hour, please considering doing so right now.  And if you need help, reach out.  We are hosting a fundraiser for the Food Bank of Iowa right now and FarmHer is matching donations up to a total of $1000. So if you can give a little, we will make it go a little further.  Click here to give.

We all eat, and that is why farming will always matter.  Everybody Eats is where the stories of food and farming intersect.  These stories told through my FarmHer lens connect us to our food and more importantly, the people behind it.  Everybody Eats is a collection of stories of those who protect our rural communities, who grow our food with extraordinary care, and who provide support, education, and assistance to make sure Everybody Eats. 

Experience the other stories of Everybody Eats!

About the Food Bank of Iowa

The Food Bank of Iowa is a private, not-for-profit organization striving to meet the critical food needs of a diverse population through approximately 625 partner agencies in 55 Iowa counties who directly serve children, families, and seniors in need. These partner agencies include food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless and domestic violence shelters, child and adult care centers, and youth and senior programs. Food Bank of Iowa operates distribution centers in Des Moines and Ottumwa and is a member of the Feeding America national network of food banks.

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