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Iowa food banks feeling the pinch of inflation

SNAP benefits are set to decrease April 1, which could make demand at food banks even higher.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Food pantries across Iowa are seeing more families coming in through their doors needing help.

"I tried to set up our pantry so they can make a couple meals," said Derice Aragon, a caseworker at the Salvation Army of Marshalltown.

Her job, in part, is to make sure "Sal's Cupboard," as the pantry is called, is stocked. But, lately, that's been a challenge.

"We were giving out more food, so then we we couldn't keep up with the demand of the people that were coming," Aragon said. "We went through all of our meat supply."

The pantry usually serves about 200 households a month, but in February, the Salvation Army helped 33% more.  Aragon believe inflation is part of the problem.

"It comes to the choice of either getting food or paying their bills," she said.

The issue is affecting Iowans across the state.

"One in 10 Iowans is food insecure," said Michelle Book, president and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa. "Food Bank of Iowa is certainly concerned."

According to Book, other factors could make demand increase even more.

"SNAP benefits are going to be decreasing the first of April," she said.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will drop between $95 and $230 per household, according to the Iowa Department of Human Services.

However, Book said there is some good news.

"Food Bank of Iowa maintains a very robust inventory. We have plenty of meat and eggs and cheese, and we always try to have canned proteins," she said.

Aragon is also planning ahead.  According to Food Bank of Iowa, the Salvation Army of Marshalltown's latest order is 50% larger than usual.

"We don't turn anybody away, and we encourage people to come and use our use our food pantry because that's what it's there for," Aragon said. "We just have to try to plan accordingly to make sure that we have enough to supply the people. 

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