You might be thinking to yourself, why is an affordable housing non-profit working with a food pantry network? One works with houses and the other works with food. Well, both organizations help primarily low-income populations. The tools we use to help are different, but at the end of the day there are three necessities to survival: shelter, food, and water. Both DMARC and HOME, Inc. strive to meet these basics needs while also helping families gain a sense of stability.
When struggling financially, meeting both food security and housing can be a tough decision. With limited funds there comes the question of ‘whether to buy groceries or pay rent’. With a majority of low-income tenants paying more than 30% of their income on rent, not having money to pay for food is common. Food banks have stepped in to accommodate this problem, yet should not be the solution. If we work to make housing more affordable, people who are working at minimum wage will be able to pay for both their housing and their nourishment.
The need for food pantries has increased dramatically over the years. There has been a 73% increase in the usage of DMARC pantries since 2012. In the 2017-18 Fiscal year, DMARC assisted 50,708 individuals in the community and saw a monthly increase of 10.4% of people visiting the pantries.
In an attempt to collaborate with community partners, HOME, Inc. was given a private presentation of DMARC’s data using their highly intuitive dashboard that shows pantry usage in real time across a map of Central Iowa. Both our staff and board were so impressed with the presentation and knew we had to be part of the solution. As of now, we are is in the process of sharing our data to overlap our client base with theirs to show we are supporting the same population. By showing that both an affordable housing agency and food pantry collective are helping a similar group of people we could focus on fixing the underlying affordable housing issue while simultaneously eliminating food insecurities. Our hope is that through collaboration and conversations with the right community members, our nonprofits can make positive long-lasting change for low-income families.