Area food bank meeting increased need - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Area food bank meeting increased need

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by John Wilmer

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- A new study released today shows an unprecedented number of eastern Iowans are seeking emergency food assistance. According to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, more than 40,000 people are using its services annually, with nearly 40% percent children and another 10% seniors.

For some it comes down to whether to pay the rent or buy food and rent usually wins, that's when the Northeast Iowa Food Bank comes in to help.

Executive Director, Barb Prather says the number of people needing assistance has gone up dramatically.

"We've seen a large increase in the number of people coming into the food bank, we just released this morning a study that's estimating we're serving at least 40,000 different individuals throughout all of our programs throughout northeast Iowa," said Prather.

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank serves five counties. When people choose to go to a local food bank they are usually facing some tough choices.

"People choosing between paying their utility bill or paying their medical bills or paying for gas or paying for transportation. In the case of people choosing between paying for their utilities and paying for food it's nearly half the people we are serving," said Prather.

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank provides food and other items to more than 200 different organizations. They would not be able to provide that kind of assistance without the help of some very generous donors.

"We're picking up at Wal-marts in the Cedar Valley which hadn't happened previous to a year ago, we're picking up at Target, and we've been picking up at Hy-Vee for years and years. Plus the farm bill, thanks to the government we're able to secure more dollars for food purchases to come in as well," said Prather.

An estimated 5.7 million people receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other agency. According to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank this is a 27% increase since 2006.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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