- Identify and integrate present knowledge and planning efforts about food and hunger in the Greater Des Moines community, as well as other promising models;
- Create a vision of a system that will serve the nutrition/health needs of all citizens/ residents;
- Coordinate initial development of a local food policy council to be known as the Greater Des Moines Food Research and Action Council;
- Utilize small planning teams from many community sectors and career fields and invite assessment/analysis of food resources, gaps, barriers, programs and recommended strategies through use of different logic and problem-solving models (see Assessment & Planning Activities Overview); and
- Draft the inaugural “Greater Des Moines Hunger-Free Community Plan”.
- Proven and promising plans and models targeted to improve food access and health continue to inform project work. Some resources are: Healthy Polk 2020; Healthy Iowa 2020; Oregon Hunger Task Force / Ending Hunger Before It Begins; The Spectrum of Prevention; and others.
- A website has been developed to help launch MoveTheFood, a multi-tiered strategy to more fully engage, inform, and learn from different sectors of the community about successful and proven food system elements. Dedicated pages will allow the site to serve as a conduit for project communications, as well as a resource library with links and information for promising food system models, related research, statistics, policies, programs, and more. A consultant team has been retained to provide website development and marketing services to support outreach, communications, and dissemination of project findings through the www.MovetheFood.org site. Preliminary market analysis through focus groups and surveys has informed web development elements and logo design, including:
- Home Page – The design features a clean layout styled with nuggets of useful data, food pantry usage trends, Item of the Week features, and more.
- Calendar of Events – Development of up-to-date, easy-to-navigate calendar with food-system related events, i.e., farmers market schedules, Meals from the Market pick-up, Meals from the Heartland packaging, nutrition education seminars, food cooperatives, food drives, etc.
- About Us Page – Brief definition of what being a food network means and examples of how individuals and businesses can be mobilized to end hunger.
- Pantry Profiles – This area will profile success stories and testimonials of people and families who have benefited from the Emergency Food Pantry.
- Nutritional Information – Food facts and links to recipe and nutrition resources
- Food Resource Mapping Page– Food pantry and other emergency food resource information with location, contact info, printable map. Interactive mapping portal was incorporated into this page and activated in March 2011.
- Community Resources & Links – These pages serve as a conduit for project communications, as well as a resource library with links and information for promising food system models, research, statistics, policies, programs, and more.
- Blog Page – A blog has been recommended to enhance the broader Rich Site Summary (RSS) feed and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) crawl (to help web users find the site).
- Media Room – Media releases, breaking news, video clips, photos, etc.
- Social Media Links – Direct links to Twitter, Facebook and similar profiles
- A consumer awareness and outreach component focused on accessibility, distribution, preparation, and increased use of nutritious and affordable foods has been implemented. Low-income households will be targeted through innovative messaging methods. Specially-designed nutrition and recipe cards are now included in DMARC emergency food packages and distributed through emergency shelter facilities and community kitchen meal sites. By design, recipes have few ingredients, are nutritious and healthy, easy to follow and create, and utilize items distributed through the DMARC Food Pantry Network. The project leverages nutrition education resources through Iowa State University Extension – www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Outreach and Enrollment
- This component provides enhanced enrollment outreach for federal benefits available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for low-income individuals who may be eligible for the program, yet are not currently enrolled.
- Targeted subset populations include food pantry consumers, seniors and immigrant sectors that typically have demonstrated 30-60% SNAP enrollment rates, even when eligible.
- Computerized SNAP application stations will be placed at up to ten (10) community-based sites. Participants will have electronic access to self-apply through the SNAP stations, and trained outreach assistants will be scheduled to assist with SNAP applications. Six (6) SNAP outreach stations have been activated as of April 2011.
- Working closely with the Iowa Department of Human Services – Adult, Children and Family Services – the project will ensure compliance with SNAP guidelines; coordinate and activate application software; establish and maintain appropriate tracking and reporting measures; and provide project management, administration, and support throughout the duration of the project period.
- The objective of this component is to improve nutrition accessibility, health, and financial stability among low-income families not already receiving SNAP benefits.
- With an average SNAP benefit value of $92/person/month for eligible participants residing in Polk County, Iowa, the projected 12-month food value equivalent of benefits awarded as a result of this project is estimated at $185,472.
- For every $1 invested in this component of the project, $10 in federal benefits/resources is projected to be returned to the central Iowa community through enhanced SNAP enrollment.
Greater Des Moines Food Research and Action Council
DMARC will facilitate formation, activation and management of the Greater Des Moines Food Research and Action Council. The Council will serve as a catalyst to integrate public, private, and nonprofit sector resources to alleviate food insecurity and create a community-based, coordinated emergency food delivery plan, i.e., the Greater Des Moines Hunger-Free Community Plan. The Council will:
- Guide community asset identification, analysis, and planning related to the local food system;
- Coordinate connections between food system leaders, the public, and community decision-makers;
- Research, review, recommend, and promote promising food system, health, and project models targeted to end hunger and improve community health;
- Identify and engage community champions, leaders, and responsible parties in the process, including individual consumers, researchers, educators, service agencies, businesses, faith and civic groups, and policy-makers;
- Propose initiatives, policies, and programs for community consideration and action;
- Assess resource implications for food system change, including community investment, costs/savings, cost-effectiveness, and efficiencies of operation; and
- Monitor and facilitate food system developments and emerging needs, and offer recommendations for system changes.
Several members of the Project Advisory Team are expected to participate on the Greater Des Moines Food Research and Action Council.
Project Partners and Resources
The Des Moines Area Religious Council serves as the lead agency for the project. Invited and committed project partners include representatives from many sectors of the community, including nonprofit, public, and private entities.
From the individual farmer to several of the largest employers in Iowa, members of the Greater Des Moines community have committed to participate in a coordinated and community-based effort to ensure each of our neighbors has access to adequate amounts of affordable and nutritious food.
Initial project funding and resources were provided by the Des Moines Area Religious Council, AmeriCorps VISTA, Healthy Polk 2020, and The Wellmark Foundation.
Current project funders include: Des Moines Area Religious Council, Healthy Polk 2020, The Wellmark Foundation, Iowa Department of Human Services/United States Department of Agriculture, United Way of Central Iowa, and Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.
To request future project updates or more information, please contact Kristine Frakes, DMARC development director, at email@example.com, tel: 515-277-6969.