Part of the planning that led to the decision last week to extend the DMPS spring break included providing food for district students and families on those extra days away from school. But as the public health crisis quickly worsened, a more comprehensive food contingency plan was formulated to keep pace, thanks to a vital pair of community partner agencies.
The Food Bank of Iowa and the Des Moines Area Religious Council mobilized right away to bridge the gap between this week and next when the district’s Food & Nutrition Department will institute distribution of “grab & go” meals at each of the district’s ten middle school sites.
“With the announcement of our school closures, we knew that our partners would play a significant role in our planning as a district,” said Jill Padgett, the DMPS Community Schools Coordinator. “We are thankful for the creativity and innovation of our partners at the Food Bank of Iowa and Des Moines Area Religious Council to work alongside us to ensure we have resources to support access to food for our students and families.”
Tami Nielsen is the Vice President of Partners & Programs for the Food Bank of Iowa.
“We serve 55 counties across the state, so when Des Moines was the first district to announce closure and reached out we were able to jump right in,” said Nielsen at the Moulton Elementary distribution site Wednesday morning.
The Food Bank and DMARC are taking turns throughout the week at satellite sites across the district where families can come and pick up basic supplies to help them keep food on the table and mitigate collateral effects of the COVID19 pandemic like temporary job loss due to social distancing directives.
“We stand ready to do as much as we can for as long as we can,” said Matt Unger, the CEO at DMARC. “We know all too well from what we see every summer, when schools are closed family food needs increase markedly.”
Wednesday afternoon at Meredith Middle School a steady trickle of families in need arrived to gratefully accept bags of foodstuffs from the DMARC trailer. Employees of the Hoover/Meredith Boys & Girls Club were there to assist. The club expected to be open during spring break as a place where students could go to engage in a variety of activities. Plans changed. Instead of fun, the focus shifted to food.
The weather was as bleak as the outlook you might get from overexposure to the latest developments in the big picture. But the takeaway from simple snapshots of the humble humanity on display of both sides of the transactions happening there was reassuring.
Thank you, Food Bank of Iowa! Thank you, DMARC!
We’ll all get by with A LOT of help from our friends. If you’d like to help them help us and all of the other Iowans they support, click here: