Experiencing record-high demand, food bank donations down 43%

CommUnity's food bank at 1045 Highway 6 East in Iowa City. CREDIT COMMUNITY FOOD BANK
CommUnity's food bank at 1045 Highway 6 East in Iowa City. CREDIT COMMUNITY FOOD BANK

CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank is currently distributing 6,000 pounds of food to approximately 200 households per day, but food product donations have decreased 43%.

This is partly due to inflation, said CommUnity Crisis Services CEO Sarah Nelson.

Food prices have increasd 8.5% from March 2022 to March 2023, according to the consumer price index (CPI) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leading to more people in need but less people willing to donate food items.

“Many local families are not eligible for other assistance programs, and the food bank is their only source of groceries each week,” said Ms. Nelson, CEO of CommUnity Crisis Services, in a statement. “But what we’re currently able to provide is just not enough. They need more food per visit than we’re able to give, and without help, the situation is only going to get worse.”

The Iowa City-based nonprofit, which also staffs the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in Iowa, is on track to hit a service record in fiscal year 2023. The previous record was 52,703 total visits in fiscal year 2017, and the Food Bank is projected to exceed 60,000 total visits by the end of June.

Ms. Nelson expects food assistance demand will continue to “skyrocket” in upcoming months because of legislation that will change SNAP benefits. A program ending universal school lunches also ended, reported Iowa Public Radio, meaning families have more meals they must worry about.

Food donations can be dropped off in the alley behind the CommUnity Food Pantry, 1045 Highway 6 East, Iowa City, IA.

Donations are accepted Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The most-needed items include:

  • Financial donations
  • Canned fruit in juice
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned meat
  • Baby diapers
  • Baby formula
  • Rice and pasta
  • Hearty soups and stews
  • Toilet paper
  • Laundry detergent