The Best Kept Secret: Food Insecurity in the Suburbs

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WAUKEE  -- The Waukee Area Christian Services Food Pantry opened it’s doors in 2005.

“There’s always been community support,” says Director Melissa Stimple, “but it took years for people to realize there is a need out in this area.”

It’s because there’s a myth that the suburbs are so affluent that the people living here are immune to issues like hunger.

“Now we’re seeing it increase, but also really spread,” explains Erin Drinnin with the United Way of Central Iowa, “so now we’re seeing poverty and families struggling to make ends meet across our entire community.”

In fact, WACS saw a twenty percent increase starting the last quarter of 2018. That trend has continued and the organization hasn’t even hit its busy season yet.

People like Kim Keller are getting help that they never thought they’d need. “We were really struggling. In the flood last year, we lost most of our belongings.”

Insurance didn’t cover those losses, and she and her husband and four kids were forced out of their house for ten days. Waukee Area Christian Services came to the rescue with everything from food and diapers to school supplies and Christmas gifts. It was invaluable,” says Kim, “I don’t know what we would’ve done without it. It was a Godsend.”

It’s easy to understand why more and more people need help when you see these numbers in what the United Way calls “the survival budget”.  In order to make even this meager budget work, it would take a family income of nearly 57-thousand dollars for a family of four.  More than half of the jobs in Iowa currently pay less than 32-thousand dollars per year.

If you’re interested in helping bridge the gap, contact the United Way of Central Iowa and Waukee Area Christian Services


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