The Des Moines Area Religious Council is seeking food and funds as it continues to serve record numbers of people in its food pantry network. They're also seeking volunteers.

The call for help followed the announcement this week that DMARC pantries set a single-day record for the number of individuals served — 1,530 — on Tuesday, Nov. 1, the highest number of people served on a single day since Sept. 3, 2018, when 1,476 people were served by the agency’s pantries.

DMARC CEO Matt Unger said that while breaking the single-day record in early November was expected, “actually seeing it happen is still jarring.”

“We fully expect that November 2022 will be the single busiest month in the 46-year history of the DMARC food pantry network,” he said.

DMARC’s food pantry network consists of 15 partner pantries, multiple mobile food pantry locations and a home delivery program.

DMARC has reported a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking help putting food on the table in recent months. DMARC officials cite rising costs of food, gas and other essential goods, and the decrease in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits that occurred on April 1 for the increase in demand at its pantry network, which served 19,385 people in October. That was an increase of 63% over October 2021.

According to a news release, more than 1,800 of those visitors used a food pantry for the first time. So far in 2022, DMARC has recorded 13,500 first-time pantry users.

Unger said help is needed as the system heads into what is traditionally its busiest time of the year. He said donations of food and money are needed, as are volunteers to work in food pantries.

Luke Elzinga, communications and advocacy manager at DMARC, said besides volunteering to work at a food pantry, people could consider volunteering to pick up food rescue donations, helping in a food pantry office, or answering calls for DMARC’s delivery hotline.

Businesses, churches and other organizations can also host fund and food drives for the agency’s food pantry partners, he said.

“It not only helps support the mission, but raises awareness about food insecurity in our community,” Elzinga said.