Feed Iowa First celebrates 10 years fighting food insecurity as need rises during pandemic

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Around 150,000 more Iowans are facing food insecurity since the start of the pandemic, and a local organization is attempting to combat that trend.

A state report from the Feeding Iowans Task Force in May says nearly 460,000 Iowans are food insecure. That’s up from 305,000 pre-pandemic. Feed Iowa First is doing what it can to try and meet the need in Cedar Rapids. The organization is celebrating 10 years of growing and giving away free vegetables to fight food insecurity.

“You saw a lot of people furloughed. You saw a lot of people just really on a tight shoestring that found themselves now in a food-insecure situation. We’ve definitely seen that anecdotally as we’ve been driving around. That’s really why we’ve ramped up distribution and production to try and meet that need,” Carter Oswood, executive director of Feed Iowa First, said.

Nadine Yemba made one of her regular trips to the Feed Iowa First veggie van in Cedar Rapids on Thursday.

“Every week I’m here,” Yemba said.

It’s a stop that helps Yemba feed her family.

”I have a big family. I have 12 in my household,” Yemba said.

Yemba said going to the veggie van helps out a lot.

In addition to operating the veggies van, Feed Iowa First installed it’s first community fridge pantry last year. There are now three of them, the newest one is in Wellington Heights.

“We really ask no questions, and it’s ‘take as much as you need’ for the household, there’s really no limits,” Oswood said.

The veggies are grown fresh on 28 urban farms across the city. So far this year, Feed Iowa First has given away 35,000 pounds of produce. Their goal is to meet the need.

“The need is there so we really can’t grow enough, and we really can’t accept too many donations of food,” Oswood said.

“It’s very helpful,” Yemba said.

In addition to Feed Iowa First, there are a number of resources offering food assistance in Linn County. There are state resources as well.

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