Food insecurity is a real problem for thousands of Iowans and South Dakotans, and COVID-19 has significantly increased the need for healthy food in both states.
During a time when unemployment rates are rising and students aren't attending traditional school, food banks provide the comfort that a healthy meal isn’t something families have to sacrifice.
According to Kim Guardado, food reservoir director at Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, "Those who are already facing food insecurity to start with have had additional challenges (during the pandemic). The data shows that a greater number of people will have to make difficult choices about putting food on the table, paying their light and energy bill, or paying their medical bills. So, we expect the need to continue to increase."
In Iowa, 1 in 8 people struggle with hunger, according to the Food Bank of Iowa External Site. And, 1 in 5 kids may not have enough food at home. South Dakota is a similar story. According to Feeding America External Site, 1 in 8 people and 1 in 6 children struggle with hunger.
"We're serving two and a half times more individuals today than we were this same time last year," said Matt Gassen, CEO of Feeding South Dakota.
According to Michelle Book, CEO of the Food Bank of Iowa, the organization served 67 percent more individuals in April 2020 than in the previous year. It's clear there is a greater need for charitable food distribution due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
See how The Wellmark Foundation is helping
In response to COVID-19, The Wellmark Foundation provided funding to assist three Feeding America organizations.
Food Bank of Iowa – $100,000
Feeding South Dakota – $75,000
Hawkeye Area Community Action Program – $75,000
The Food Bank of Iowa continues to host volunteers who help at food panties, soup kitchens and shelters. These volunteers, along with the donation from the Foundation, will help these organizations with their increased demand to meet the needs of those they serve.
"The $100,000 gift from Wellmark will help us provide hundreds of thousands of meals to Iowans in need and we are so, incredibly grateful," said Book.