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Following months-long contract dispute, DMARC and Food Bank of Iowa announce new partnership

The announcement breaks a months-long impasse between the two organizations.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A months-long standstill is at an end: DMARC and the Food Bank of Iowa have a new partnership between the two organizations to keep pantry shelves stocked in central Iowa.

The original disagreement between them stretches back to October 2022, when the Food Bank terminated its agreement with DMARC. But after weeks of negotiation, leaders say they have found a solution.

The disagreement between the two organizations had to do with a change requiring each Food Bank partner pantry to provide three days' worth of food to visitors, even if they had already received food from another pantry.

On Tuesday, leaders said DMARC's southside pantry will now follow those rules.

"The DMARC-ket Southside pantry located at DMARC headquarters will become a Food Bank of Iowa partner, a pantry partner, aligning with the Food Bank of Iowa distribution standard," said Michelle Book, CEO of the Food Bank of Iowa.

But that's not the only change. 

The organizations have agreed to collaborate on the Food Bank's food rescue program. While the Food Bank of Iowa will still coordinate with partners who donate their food to the program, DMARC will be weighing and delivering the food to pantries themselves. 

Officials say the move will expand the reach of the program to more hungry Iowans.

"DMARC will have access to a number of assigned retailers across the community and be able to provide those items being rescued across the entirety of our 15 pantry food pantry network, whether they have a partnership with the food bank or not," said Matt Unger, CEO of DMARC.

The new agreement comes after weeks of mediation, hosted by Scott Raecker of the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University and Jordan Vernoy, a food insecurity expert and co-owner of See What I Mean Consulting

The new developments are just the beginning of their work to address food insecurity in Central Iowa, according to officials.

"We know that 60% of people who are food insecure are not accessing the charitable food network. Why is that? What are the ways that we can make sure that those individuals have the food that they need? So there's a lot of work to be done," Vernoy said.

Finally, the nine local affiliate pantries that hadn't agreed to work with the Food Bank while negotiations were ongoing. Book and Unger both told reporters that those pantries have been encouraged to reapply for partnership under the new agreement.

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