A cold winter has the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry Network seeking more food items going into the week of spring break, DMARC announced today.


DMARC's warehouse has a low inventory right now as area families have sought more assistance this winter, in part because of increased grocery costs, a decrease in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and because of high heating bills, officials said.


In January, DMARC provided food for 558 more families than a year ago, a 15 percent increase. In January 2014, DMARC provided 148,851 food items for 4,326 families. That is up from 122,620 food items for 3,768 families in January 2013.  


At the same time, DMARC Food Pantry Network Director Rebecca Whitlow said, donation levels have dropped in part due to a move to a new location in January, and in part due to persistent cold weather and bad driving conditions. In January, DMARC received just less than 20,000 food items. February numbers are not yet available, but donations were down, Whitlow said.


With spring break coming up, officials are expecting an influx of volunteers to help sort and pack food next week, but the pantry just needs more food.


DMARC is asking for food and cash donations, which can be dropped off at the food pantry warehouse at 1435 Mulberry St. between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The warehouse will also have special hours from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday to accept donations.


Click here for a list of most-needed items, and click here to make a money donation online.


DMARC's Food Pantry Network consists of 13 separate pantry sites and a centralized warehouse.


A story in the Feb. 21 issue of the Business Record detailed how DMARC is attempting to keep up with the growing number of people who are using the Food Pantry Network.