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Food Bank of Iowa hosts 7th annual 'Smoke Out Hunger' fundraiser

Officials say food banks across Iowa are seeing increasing need for services.

DES MOINES, Iowa — If you thought you were smelling barbeque around downtown Des Moines on July 31, there was a good reason for it. 

The Food Bank of Iowa hosted their annual "Smoke Out Hunger" fundraiser, helping keep their shelves stocked for families in need. 

It's the biggest fundraiser the Food Bank of Iowa hosts every year, and officials say the extra help couldn't come at a better time with demand for services on the rise.

According to the Food Bank of Iowa, in the last six months, pantries they help supply have seen double, triple, or even quadruple the number of people coming in.  One factor driving that: additional SNAP benefits given out during the COVID-19 pandemic were ended back in in April.

"It's people living on fixed incomes, and it's people that are working hard but just can't make ends meet. One in seven working Iowans aren't making enough to pay their basic bills," said Michelle Book, CEO of the Food Bank of Iowa.

And that's just the start. With inflation driving up food costs and many children lacking access to school meals during the summer, it's creating a perfect storm for pantries.

"On the heels of the COVID crisis, we have another disaster with heightened need. We need more food today than we needed during COVID," Book said.

According to the Food Bank of Iowa, approximately 300,000 Iowans are dealing with food insecurity. 100,000 of them are children. If you're looking to donate or volunteer at any local pantries, information about how to help can be found here.

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