by Ariana Sandillo — 12/29/11

Can you imagine having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country but still relying on food banks for assistance? Well, this is the case in Urbandale, Iowa. This affluent town has many people who cannot afford food, hygiene products and other essentials. That’s where the Urbandale Food Pantry comes in. It opened three years ago and has been helping community members ever since.

About 300 families regularly go to the Food Pantry.  All the items are donated by the Des Moines Area Religious Center, which receives them from churches and businesses.

Eileen Boggess is the Urbandale Food Pantry director. She says as the donations flow in, the demand in the community has been increasing. That limits what can be given away.

A family of one has an allowance of one box of pasta, a jar of sauce, a can of tuna fish and a can of fruit. This is supposed to last one month. “Hunger is not something you can put off for weeks.”

Boggess says, however most clients don’t complain. Jack Shelledy is 75-years old from Des Moines. He’s retired and receives a monthly social security check, which he says covers his rent and utilities. The cost of living has forced him to go to the food bank and for that he’s grateful.

“I’m a survivor, I get by.”

For the majority of the year the Food Pantry stays stocked, but there are some times when there are more donations. For example, around the holidays many people flood the Pantry with donations and extra essentials. Everyone is grateful for those donations, although Boggess says she wishes there were more throughout the year.

“The thing that people need to realize is that hunger is year round.”