CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- The state's Feeding Iowa task force has helped feed hungry Iowans during the pandemic, bringing more foods from farmers to food pantries.
Today, that work came to an end. Governor Reynolds thanked the task force members and everyone who was involved in the distribution of food across the state.
Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, who headed up the task force, said its members would pivot into other roles and build upon the work they did over the last year.
Since the inception of the task force last April, hungry Iowans received 1.3 million pounds of dry foods -- like oatmeal, rice and pasta -- and nearly 2 million servings of protein. More than 75,000 Iowans were able to buy fresh produce with the a dollar for dollar match with food stamps -- all through the task force's various programs.
"Not only did it make a difference in our pandemic response, it's really prepared our state, I think, to be even more effective at feeding Iowa's hungry, regardless of our circumstances," Gov. Reynolds said.
More than 38 million meals were distributed to hungry Iowans through the governor's allocation of more than $12m in COVID-19 relief funding to the task force's efforts.
"While the task force was established to address food insecurity due to the pandemic and that work has now largely come to a close," Gov. Reynolds said, "it will continue to address issues of food insecurity in a variety of emergency response situations in our state going forward."
But now, those task force members will pivot into more formal roles in emergency response planning with the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, while the state will examine hunger through the broader lens of the health of Iowans.
"With the release of this report, however, we will be scaling back the efforts of this task force. I want to be clear --we're not saying we've solved hunger in Iowa forevermore. But, instead we want to use the relationships we've built and the connections we've made to continue this conversation in other forums," Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg said.
More than a hundred food pantries expanded their refrigeration capacity with the "Pack the Pantry" grant funding, which prepared them for their work moving forward.
Chris Ackman is the Communications Manager at HACAP in Cedar Rapids. He said the organization is grateful for the programs the task force implemented and the financial assistance the state provided.
"These initiatives were just a great addition to what we were doing so it was a great help and assistance but, I think, even as we transition out of COVID, even as we go into the next year, I think, we're still gonna have a lot off great support in a lot of other ways to really help benefit us," Ackman said.
He says that federal funding ebbs and flows but the community support from businesses and local volunteers, who stepped up to help during the pandemic and the derecho, is something they can rely on.