To minimize contact and promote social distancing, in-person pantry shopping experiences have migrated to grab & go prepacked food package distributions. As we mobilize to meet the increased need for food, we need bags to support this new, safe way to distribute food.

Boxes cost $1.10 each – money better put toward the purchase of peanut butter and pasta sauce.

Food Bank of Iowa has discovered that a cloth bag, easily constructed from a cotton or cotton blend T-shirt, holds food safely. Food Bank of Iowa needs new and gently used T-shirts and volunteers to sew these T-shirts into usable tote bags.

We are asking for your help. Please look through your closet for brand new or gently used T-shirts or host a T-shirt drive. Visit our website at and find our “DIY T-shirt Tote Bags” section. Follow the instructions and deliver your completed T-shirt totes to Food Bank of Iowa.

We are asking for T-shirt bags instead of tote bags, because the t-shirt bags are easy to store and wash. They are environmentally safe, fun, and hold up to 50 pounds. T-shirt bags are a cost-effective way to get a lot of food safely to our neighbors in need.

Two of our committed volunteers, Holleen Lawrence and her husband Mike Roder, are committed to this effort, collecting and creating totes out of T-shirts.

“The best tools to succeed with a mass volume of sewing are a sharp rotary cutter, a large cutting mat, a good working sewing machine, a solid support system, and my cat Guffman,” Holleen Lawrence said. To date, Holleen and Mike have sewn 2,127 totes. These bags have carried food to families across our 55-county area. We are grateful for Holleen and Mike for their passion and support.

Would you like to help with this effort? Contact our Volunteer Training and Development Manager, Michaela Devaney, at