In Des Moines, the Food Bank of Iowa Uses Schools to Alleviate Food Insecurity

From by Emma Tozer
In Des Moines, the Food Bank of Iowa Uses Schools to Alleviate Food Insecurity

The Food Bank of Iowa is a food distribution center in Des Moines, IA. The Food Bank of Iowa uses its School Pantry Program to offer nutritious foods for low-income students and their families. The BackPack Program™ provides food to low-income children on the weekends, when they do not have access to free and reduced-price school food. 

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Christina Zink, communications manager, at the Food Bank of Iowa.

Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?

Christina Zink (CZ): Our mission is to alleviate hunger through food distribution, partnership, and education. We work really hard on not only getting food to where it needs to go, but also working together with communities and our partner agencies to create innovative and effective distribution efforts and programs.

FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of?

CZ: One of our biggest projects this last year was our School Pantry Program. Our BackPack Program™ is at an all time high, serving 5,000 kids per week. We really needed to find a more efficient way of serving children and their families. We piloted nine school pantries this year, one at every level (elementary, middle, high school) and in many rural communities. The pantry is like any other pantry, but located on the grounds of the school and open to students and their families. We have seen incredible support from school officials, teachers, counselors, and nurses. In five months, we have served almost 5,500 students.

FT: What are your goals for 2015 and beyond?

CZ: Our goals for 2015 include growing our youth programs, starting new programing for families, creating some senior feeding programs (we see a real need there), and doing more advocating and education public, state, and federal officials on what we do, who we serve, and the need we see.

FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?

CZ: As an eater or consumer, the important thing is knowledge; if you understand the need and how you can make an impact, then you become a great advocate, donor, volunteer, and supporter.

FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?

CZ: People can become more involved by checking out our website. We have great ways to do food/fund drives, support a program or volunteer.

Download the 2015 Good Food Org Guide HERE

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