Just as I could not have predicted the events of 2020 . . .
A global pandemic taking life and isolating many. School disruptions leaving children home and hungry. An economic shut-down with many loosing necessary jobs. A drought and derecho impacting acres of farmland and small-town Main Street economies. And hurricane-force winds taking down electric lines, claiming precious food from refrigerators of food insecure Iowans.
. . . nor could I have predicted how community leaders, donors, volunteers, and distribution partners would step up to help fellow Iowans, providing comfort to many.
I am grateful.
Community leaders are coming forward to collaborate with innovative solutions. Donors are stepping up to make certain the food bank has resources to help neighbors put food on the table. Volunteers are showing up in numbers we have never seen. Food pantries and homeless shelters are finding ways to safely do more for their clients. And rural schools are helping families struggling to make ends meet. At the center of this activity is Food Bank of Iowa.
Mary is a single mother of four – ages 5, 6, 7, and 10. Her young electrician husband died of a heart attack a year ago. She was barely making ends meet working full-time at a convenience store when suddenly her kids were out of school and she was without daycare. With the kids back in school part-time this fall, she works 16 hours a week. Still not enough to make ends meet. The children are enrolled in the Food Bank of Iowa BackPack program and Mary visits a food pantry every week.
The holidays will be bleak for Mary and her children and they are not alone. Feeding America and McKinsey Consulting report that food insecurity is double today from early 2020, triple for households with children. And we have not seen the worst of it.
The last two recessions have taught us that food insecurity rates peak three to four years after the recession started. And for every month of recession, there are about six months of recovery to get back to pre-recession food insecurity levels. If we conservatively estimate the recession to last just one year, we can expect food insecurity to peak levels by 2027.
Food Bank of Iowa is bracing for an unknown future. The need is great, food costs are escalating, the supply chain is uncertain, and we depend on individual giving to stay afloat. Not since the Great Depression have Iowans faced adversity of this magnitude. Never has Food Bank of Iowa been challenged to do so much, and I am thankful we do not have to do it alone.
Thank you for helping us help others.
Michelle Book, President & CEO