My world changed significantly on March 13th. I am pretty sure yours did as well.

While I grieve the loss of what I loved about my life before COVID-19, I am mindful to celebrate the new opportunities provided by this global pandemic: more time with family, take-out tenderloins, telemedicine, a new puppy, Zoom calls, old and new Netflix movies, and learning proper handwashing technique.

During this time of uncertainty, Food Bank of Iowa is also embracing new opportunities.

We are finding innovative ways to support loyal partner agencies as they strive to fill the growing demand. Where needed, we are distributing nutritious food in parking lots, bringing on new highly engaged partners, and implementing groundbreaking programs. We expanded the truck fleet and doubled our routes. We have been creative in redirecting food destined for restaurants to serve families in need. We are engaging hundreds of new volunteers safely – here at the food bank and from their homes. We are directing National Guard missions.

If you have not “Liked” Food Bank of Iowa’s Facebook page, I encourage you to do so. Please join us as we share these stories of help and hope. And join in the celebration of our accomplishments. None of this is possible without you.

Food insecurity has long been a serious issue. Flashback to February 2020. Iowa’s unemployment rate was 2.7%, while 11.6% of Iowa’s population lived in poverty and struggled to put food on the table. Most of the people we served lived in a married household, had a roof over their head and a job, if not several. Most of the people we served were senior citizens, disabled folks, and people trying to make ends meet while working low wage jobs.

And then in March, our seemingly robust economy crumbled suddenly. Those already struggling were pushed further into fear and poverty and many who were previously employed, but not able to accumulate enough savings for an emergency, joined them. With unemployment levels that have approached those of the Great Depression, chances are you know someone who lost their job due to COVID-19 and through no fault of their own.

Although the economy will eventually recover for many, it will be slow. And for some, recovery will be elusive. Thankfully, Iowans stand together during times of difficulty. I am heartened by and proud of the support we are receiving to help our neighbors in need during this difficult time. We are all in this together and we will see it through together. But it will not be easy.

Helping people through the recovery will be a marathon and not a sprint. What does that mean exactly? For those of you who have run a marathon, you know this will be hard. It will hurt. It will be a mental rollercoaster. Roadblocks are inevitable. Being prepared is important. A plan is critical. Proper nutrition, sleep, and mental health are paramount.

The Food Bank of Iowa team has never been better prepared to meet a challenge of this magnitude. And with you standing by our side cheering us on, I know we will prevail.

Thank you for helping us help others.

Be well,

Michelle Book