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Food Bank of Iowa unveils new Wellmark Foundation Volunteer Center

One of the core tenants of The Wellmark Foundation is to provide access to and consumption of healthy foods. But for many Iowans that is a challenge.

Food insecurity affects 1 in 8 Iowans, leaving them unsure where or when their next meal will be. In addition, 1 in 5 children in Iowa do not have enough food to eat. Food insecurity can impact an individual’s ability to learn, can lead to poor growth, poor lifelong eating habits and increased obesity rates.

The volunteer center gets key renovations

The Foundation saw a way to help — through a $500,000 grant to the Food Bank of Iowa External Link. That grant money completes the renovation of the volunteer center.

The Wellmark Foundation Volunteer Center provides a dedicated space for adults and children as young as 10 to engage in projects supporting Food Bank of Iowa's mission of combating food insecurity.

"The Wellmark Foundation's generous contribution will help ensure that every Food Bank of Iowa volunteer has a safe, comfortable, and productive experience," said Michelle Book, president and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa.

"The volunteer room is critical to our operation, as volunteers are key to moving hundreds of tons of food items into our warehouse inventory quickly, making certain nutrition reaches food insecure Iowans when its needed most."

Key features of the renovation included the installation of new, energy efficient LED lighting, a new climate-control system, modern fire suppression systems, and remediation of mold and asbestos.

Volunteers now enter Food Bank of Iowa through a dedicated entrance, with convenient restroom and water fountain access, plus lockers to store personal items. After entering the Wellmark Foundation Volunteer Center, volunteers participate in a wide variety of projects, from sorting donated food items to packaging fresh produce to packing family meal kits.

"Living a healthy and productive lifestyle starts with proper nutrition, and the Food Bank of Iowa is making that possible," said Becky Wampler Bland, past executive director of The Wellmark Foundation.

"Together, The Wellmark Foundation and the Food Bank of Iowa are working toward a hunger-free Iowa by providing food to children, families and seniors so they can lead full, active lives. Because of the shared vision of our two organizations, the Foundation is proud to provide this grant and we look forward to seeing the impact it has on Iowans for generations to come."

Food drive nets more than 88,000 meals for Food Bank of Iowa

In conjunction with the announcement of the $500,000 grant, The Wellmark Foundation conducted a food and monetary drive at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Des Moines office.

Wellmark employees were encouraged to bring in items the Food Bank of Iowa most needed or participate in The Wellmark Foundation's BluesCare GivingSM program by providing a monetary donation that is matched by the Foundation.

"Wellmark employees are committed to helping those in the communities where we live and work," said Wampler Bland. "We are grateful our employees rallied to provide more than 88,000 meals to combat food insecurity in Iowa."

In addition to participating in the food drive, more than 40 Wellmark employees attended the unveiling to deliver the donations and be the first to work in the new Wellmark Foundation Volunteer Center.

To learn how you can help fight hunger in your community, visit External Link.