The Food Bank of Iowa was recently recognized during Feeding America’s annual conference in Louisville, Ky., for its work during the coronavirus pandemic, when food insecurity among Iowans doubled, tripling among families with children. Food Bank of Iowa was one of six food banks nationwide to be honored during the “Network Celebrations” event, held last week.

It was recognized for its “exceptional efforts in seeking out new community partnerships, while deepening existing alliances” throughout the pandemic. The Food Bank of Iowa was highlighted for its efforts to identify and serve underserved populations experiencing food insecurity. Those efforts resulted in expanded outreach, including a new community partnership with 15 pastors of African immigrant congregations, a group that was previously unseen by other food assistance organizations. Now, one of the largest churches in the group is a food distribution hub for the other congregations, with the Food Bank of Iowa delivering food to them weekly.

“We know that food insecurity disproportionately affects immigrant families, and COVID-19 exacerbated that need,” said Michelle Book, the Food Bank of Iowa president. “When we considered where people naturally go, and how we can provide food access in a comfortable environment, it made sense to build and extend our partnerships in the faith-based community.” Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the CEO of Feeding America, said the Food Bank of Iowa has “made a tremendous impact for people facing hunger in their community. From their focus on engaging with new partners to supporting other food banks across the network in times of disaster or emergency, these network members demonstrate the impact we can have when we come together.”