DES MOINES, Iowa – Food Bank of Southern Iowa, based in Ottumwa, will merge with Food Bank of Iowa, based in Des Moines. The two food banks entered into an agreement of mutual understanding to complete the merger during 2018. Food Bank of Southern Iowa has served as a redistribution organization for Food Bank of Iowa since 2012.

All staff, facilities, vehicles, and partnerships currently operated by Food Bank of Southern Iowa’s (FBOSI) will be retained. FBOSI’s current partners, which will join Food Bank of Iowa’s (FBOI) network, will gain access to greater resources of food, access to a more robust support system and fleet of trucks, and full access to the Feeding America network of food banks. The FBOSI name and brand will be replaced by the FBOI name and brand.

“Eliminating hunger in the counties we serve brings significant challenges of logistics, funding, and operations,” said Janey Huston, chair of the Food Bank of Southern Iowa board of directors. “We believe, as one unit under one umbrella, we can successfully meet our challenges more easily, more efficiently, and in a way that maintains a strong local presence in southeast Iowa.”

Food Bank of Iowa is currently hiring a staff member to manage the transition from Ottumwa and assume the role of branch manager following the merger. That staff member will serve as a liaison between the two organizations, and work to prepare FBOSI and its partners for the final transition.

“Over the past two years, we have focused on building this relationship from a contract into a partnership,” said Michelle Book, president and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa. “We are now able to shift our focus to melding our two organizations, meeting the needs of the communities we both aim to serve and serving the missions we both aim to uphold.”

Food banks are large-scale distribution organizations, designed to provide access to food to smaller organizations that share the hunger-fighting mission, including food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and others. Where those organizations do not exist or cannot fully serve the need, food banks manage direct service programs to fill the gap. Food banks work with food producers, distributors, and retailers to secure donations of a wide variety of food products, then inventory and distribute those products through their network.

This merger formalizes an existing subsidiary relationship between the two food banks. Food Bank of Iowa is responsible for food distribution to 175,000 food insecure Iowans living in 55 Iowa counties, including the 13 currently served by Food Bank of Southern Iowa. The counties served by Food Bank of Iowa include: Adair, Adams, Appanoose, Audubon, Boone, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cerro Gordo, Clarke, Clay, Dallas, Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Dickinson, Emmet, Franklin, Greene, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Humboldt, Jasper, Jefferson, Keokuk, Kossuth, Lee, Louisa, Lucas, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Polk, Ringgold, Sac, Story, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Wayne, Webster, Winnebago, Worth, and Wright.