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Polk County, Downtown Farmers' Market Celebrate Milestones in Feeding the Hungry

September 10, 2016

Polk County and the Downtown Farmers’ Market presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines announced milestones in major initiatives to feed the hungry in Greater Des Moines. The announcements were made at this morning’s Downtown Farmers’ Market in the Historic Court Avenue District.

Polk County announced that its Partnership for a Hunger Free Polk County has raised nearly $5 million dollars that is being used to increase access to food pantries throughout Polk County. By the end of the calendar year the initiative will have added over 150 hours per week to the food pantry network. Early results have shown an increase in clients at the food pantries that are staying open on evenings and weekends and approximately 60 percent of people visiting pantries had never visited one before.

“Addressing food insecurity is a priority in Polk County,” said Polk County Supervisor Angela Connolly. “We have already experienced major success compared to where we were just a year ago thanks to so many dedicated people and organizations. We will keep working to ensure that all of our residents have access to affordable food because we know that there are still people in our community who are struggling and need help.”

The Downtown Farmers’ Markets announced that its Meals from the Market program has collected an average of 2,000 pounds of fresh food each Saturday to donate to Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC), where food contributions are used to create meals to feed the hungry and also sent to 13 Central Iowa food pantry sites. The program is at 70 percent of its annual goal of donating 47,000 pounds of fresh Farmers’ Market food. Meals from the Market, which is sponsored by Great Western Bank, offers vendors and patrons an opportunity to donate fresh food each Saturday to be taken to DMARC pantries. The program was launched in 2009.

“Our program and the Hunger Free Polk County initiative complement each other very well,” said Kelly Foss, Director of the Downtown Farmers’ Market. “I’m proud of our Market vendors and patrons who contribute to Meals from the Market each week to feed the hungry in our community. We look forward to the continued success of this program.”

“Fighting food insecurity makes the Greater Des Moines community better for everyone,” said Erin Goedeke, Business Banking Associate at Great Western Bank. “We are proud to sponsor the Meals from the Market program, which has successfully galvanized so many residents to give back to the community and help fight hunger.”

DMARC food pantries participate in both the Meals from the Market program and the Partnership for a Hunger Free Polk County initiative. Both initiatives have helped DMARC bolster its food pantry services.

“It takes dedication from the entire community to effectively serve those in need, and both of these programs have made a significant direct impact in feeding the hungry in Central Iowa,” said Sarai Schnucker Rice, Executive Director of DMARC. “We call on all citizens to continue to contribute to these initiatives to help those in need in our community.”

Residents interested in getting involved can learn more about the Partnership for a Hunger Free Polk County at HungerFreePolkCounty.org and the Meals from the Market program at DesMoinesFarmersMarket.com/Saturday/Programs. Patrons and vendors of The Market can donate food items during regular Market hours each Saturday through Oct. 31. The donation booth is located at Second and Court Avenues on the north side of the street.

About the Downtown Farmers’ Market

The Downtown Farmers’ Market is presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and produced by the Downtown Community Alliance. The Downtown Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday morning May – October in the Historic Court District in Downtown Des Moines. The Market also produces a Downtown Winter Farmers’ Market in November and December. The Downtown Community Alliance, a pillar of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, provides a consistent and constant focus on developing and maintaining a vibrant downtown core. For more information please visit DesMoinesFarmersMarket.com, find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/DowntownFarmersMarket, Twitter and Instagram at @DTFarmersMarket #DTFM

About the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Polk County

In 2015, the Polk County Board of Supervisors initiated a conversation with key stakeholders that eventually became the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Polk County to address the county’s hunger crisis. Members of the Partnership represent a diverse range of concerned individuals and organizations, including health care providers, religious institutions, universities, senior and community centers, government agencies, food banks and food pantries. Based on the findings of a food insecurity study, the Partnership developed a plan and will act as a catalyst for change in ensuring residents have access to a stable and convenient source of needed food.