Food Bank of Iowa

The Food Bank of Iowa is working to change their food delivery system. 

OTTUMWA — Hunger is a prominent issue in this country. The Food Bank of Iowa wants to combat hunger, but can’t do so if they don’t consider potential changes in their food delivery system.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting Vice President of Partners and Programs Tami Nielsen spoke on behalf of the Food Bank of Iowa, discussing changes that should take place in food delivery as well as their take on their partnership with the county supervisors.

Nielsen said their goals are to add more perishable foods and better the food delivery system.

Nielsen said they faced the issue of volunteers delivering food unattended. Volunteers went to homes and left the boxes outside without confirming their need for the food boxes.

Due to the fact that the Food Bank of Iowa is a member of Feeding America, a large domestic fighting organization, Nielsen said they have to follow “stringent guidelines (in regard to delivering food) when it comes to dealing with such a vulnerable population.”

“It is our drive and mission to serve those in the most healthy and best way that we can,” Nielsen said, “we are looking for the best processes for the delivery.”

In turn, Nielsen said one of the best ways of bettering the delivery is to have a refrigerated truck. The Food bank recently purchased one, but talked about the possibility of increasing refrigration. “Having more of a capacity would have them be able to deliver to the seniors protein in the form of frozen need. Having crates is another possibility as they would allow more storage for eggs and milk. It’s a wonderful program, but just to make it better should be our goal.”

Nielsen proposed a driver and the food deliverer sit side by side to make delivering food quicker.

Bettering the delivery system, however, also involves established delivery routes. Even though Nielsen said the food bank has not had a fixed route yet, she said each county supervisor could each deliver their desired amount of food boxes each month and list more routes geographically.

Their ultimate goal in bettering the system though is to have those in need get their food boxes, no matter the circumstance, hoping to have a consistent route by September. Food safety and safety are the biggest proponents in bettering the delivery system. “Anybody who is a partner with the Food Bank of Iowa is held to those food safety standards. What we do on our ends, we could have volunteers at the food bank even call the folks the night before and say our truck will be there between nine and noon on Thursday and ask if they would be able to receive it, just to give them a heads up if they come. No one should leave food out if it’s 80 to 85 degrees out. Also nobody would answer the door to a stranger. I understand that trepidation if you see someone standing at your door, you don’t know. You may not come and unlock it and answer it. So we definitely want to forge that relationship and let them know we’re safe and a friendly face.”

As for their partnership with the county supervisors, nothing is subject to change as the supervisors will still provide grant money. Although if the program grew, then the grant money would change. “As it stands right now, we can just serve the folks that you’ve designated on the list,” Nielsen said, “and really just be conscious of that food safety issue and making sure it gets right into the hands of the people.”

— Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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