More than 53,000 free meals were distributed in Des Moines this summer to families and residents as part of a program to help those in need because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a news release, the program was a partnership between the city of Des Moines, Central Iowa Shelter & Services, and local restaurants and caterers. From May through mid-September, 14 restaurants, caterers and food trucks collaborated to distribute free meals at 14 sites in neighborhoods throughout Des Moines. The restaurants were paid from $481,807 in COVID-19 relief funds. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said the program helped in two ways: by getting meals to those in need and by providing business to restaurants and food vendors who were hit hard by the pandemic. Melissa O’Neil, CEO of CISS, said there are too many people struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, and the free meal program provided a much-needed service to those in need. 

Iowa Stops Hunger is a yearlong Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa. Read additional stories on