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What happened between the Food Bank of Iowa and West Des Moines Human Services?

The Food Bank of Iowa is known for providing food at a reduced price to nonprofits and charities across the metro.

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West Des Moines Human Services (WDMHS) will no longer receive food from the Food Bank of Iowa following a failed mediation between the city of West Des Moines and the food bank.  

The Food Bank of Iowa is known for providing food at a reduced price to nonprofits and charities across the metro.

Previously, WDMHS was able to access the food bank's services through its partnership with Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC). 

However, several DMARC pantries recently declined to sign a new contract with Food Bank of Iowa, including WDMHS. 

Following the contract dispute, West Des Moines hoped to reestablish a relationship with the food bank, separate from DMARC. 

West Des Moines Mayor Russ Trimble said they expressed this to the food bank's director, Michelle Book, on Dec. 7. 

"We proposed a creative solution using our own 501c3, West Des Moines Human Services, and we told her that was the direction that we're looking at heading," Trimble said. "That way, we could sign a separate contract with the Food Bank of Iowa and a separate contract with DMARC and keep the food and the policies separate and work to get food to our people." 

But Trimble said that, when Book met with West Des Moines city manager Tom Hadden on Wednesday, she informed him that the plan would no longer work.

"Right midstream of coming up with a solution to the problem, they basically just pulled the rug out from under us and said, 'We will not be doing business with you.' So now, we are struggling to get the food we need to provide our people," Trimble said. 

Trimble is still hoping the city will be able to reach an agreement with the food bank. 

"All we care about in the city is providing the food to the people in need, especially around the holidays," he said. "I'm asking for Michelle Book and the Food Bank of Iowa to come back to the table, sit down with us, and let's figure out a solution to this." 

In a statement to Local 5, Food Bank of Iowa spokesperson Annette Hacker said that when DMARC declined to sign a contract on WDMHS' behalf, the food bank assigned resources to existing partners. 

However, Hacker said the Food Bank of Iowa has several other points of service in West Des Moines, including eight elementary school backpack programs, four food pantries, three community pantries and one mobile pantry.

"We are serving people who face hunger in West Des Moines and we will continue to do so, adding another new partner in West Des Moines in 2023," Hacker told Local 5. 

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