Food Bank of Iowa fleet lined up at dock

DES MOINES, Iowa (Oct. 26, 2023) – It looks to be a challenging holiday season ahead for Iowans who need food assistance.

Record numbers continue to seek help
Last month, Food Bank of Iowa partner pantries served more than 191,000 individuals in 55 counties, an all-time high and continuing the record-breaking numbers that have persisted the past 18 months. Thousands more sought help through meal sites supported by Food Bank of Iowa, with more than 140,000 meals served.

The situation in Iowa mirrors a new USDA report, which found millions more nationwide didn’t have enough to eat in 2022 – the largest one-year increase since 2008. The report found 12.8% of U.S. households, or 17 million, struggled to put enough food on the table. That’s up from 13.5 million households in 2021. Among households with children, 3.3 million were food insecure in 2022, an increase of 1 million households, or 38%, over the previous year. While food insecurity increased across the board, significant jumps also were reported among single mothers, SNAP households and people of color.

Sobering stats are ‘not surprising’
Food Bank of Iowa CEO Michelle Book said the huge increase is not surprising.

“We’ve seen the need rising all around us,” she said. “As food insecurity began to escalate, we set big goals to ensure no child, senior, veteran or hardworking individual has to struggle to find food. With community support, Food Bank of Iowa this fall doubled its food storage capacity. We are not only delivering millions more pounds of food across our service area, but we are also providing greater access to fresh food and lean protein for our neighbors. We continue to be humbled by the donors, volunteers and partners who work alongside us as we fight hunger in Iowa every single day.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the USDA report’s findings unacceptable. In a statement, he underscored the need for a strong Farm Bill and full funding for programs including WIC and SNAP.

“With this evidence before us, there is no excuse to look the other way while our country’s children and families contend with this unfair yet preventable hardship,” he said.

The USDA report showed food insecurity in Iowa at about 9%. The Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse Survey (Sept. 20-Oct. 2, 2023) reports 10.6% of Iowa households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the last seven days, which parallels the state’s poverty rate of 11%.

About Food Bank of Iowa

Established in 1982, Food Bank of Iowa provides nutritious food for Iowa children, families, seniors and veterans to lead full and active lives, strengthening their communities. Serving 55 of Iowa’s 99 counties, Food Bank of Iowa delivers more than 21 million pounds of food (more than 17 million meals) to its 700 partners annually. Learn more at

Media contact:

Annette Hacker, VP communications, Food Bank of Iowa, 515-867-2885,