Pilot program is working with local African churches

To better serve diverse communities, Food Bank of Iowa launched a new initiative called ‘Building Communities Together.” The program focuses on assembling leaders of marginalized populations, building awareness for Food Bank of Iowa services and encouraging collaborative food assistance solutions to best serve their communities.

Food Bank of Iowa kicked off the program this spring when pastors from metro African churches gathered at the food bank. The churches represent countries including Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leon, Southern Sudan and Kenya.  Previously, the pastors were unaware of the Food Bank of Iowa’s services, and many did not know one another. As a result of the meeting, metro African churches have come together with, Food Bank of Iowa, to provide food pantry services for their congregations. 

The first distribution in May was built to serve 420 families. Food Bank of Iowa delivered chicken breast, spaghetti and sauce, peanut butter, fresh produce and other items to Life Chapel International, which is acting as the food hub for the other African churches. Working together, they provided 14,000 pounds of nutrition to families across 14 church congregations. Monthly distributions are planned and expected to expand as more experience using this distribution model is gained.

“The first food delivery reinforced the spirit of unity in our African community,” said Cornelius Martor, pastor at Life Chapel International. “Pastors made themselves available to help other pastors load their vehicles with food. People had time to meet new friends and exchange numbers. I am so grateful for this partnership.”

The program began with an open dialogue between Food Bank of Iowa and the local pastors.  The benefit is twofold. First, Food Bank of Iowa is more aware of underserved communities and their needs. Second, communities are finding new ways to collaborate. Food Bank of Iowa is focused on hearing from community leaders on how the organization can work together to identify and better serve those who need help.

“We can do more when we leverage our collective power,” said Michelle Book, president and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa. “And we can be more successful in solving the problem of food insecurity when we take time to listen and learn.”

Community leaders interested in connecting with Food Bank of Iowa can contact Tami Nielsen, vice president of partners and programs at 515-867-2889. Any person or organization who wants to help feed community members can visit foodbankiowa.org to learn more.