Iowa Farm Bureau and Fareway Stores have partnered to donate two truckloads of ground beef and ground turkey to Iowa food banks in the “Meat the Need” campaign to feed hungry families across the state.

The 57,863 pounds of ground protein were delivered last week to the Food Bank of Iowa, which will work with the Iowa Food Bank Association to distribute the meat to food banks throughout Iowa.

The donation comes at a critical time as record numbers of Iowans are seeking help with food while food prices have never been higher, said Linda Gorkow, executive director of the Iowa Food Bank Association. 

The state’s overall food insecurity rate is about 12.7%, or roughly 389,730 people, according to the Iowa Food Bank Association. One-third of Iowans facing hunger are children.

“Unfortunately, the need for food assistance is higher now than it was during the pandemic, so this comes at a very needed time,” said Gorkow. “We are tremendously happy to coordinate and partner with Fareway Stores and Iowa Farm Bureau. Their support is truly helping us provide an essential source of protein and fight hunger as we serve children, seniors and working families in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.”

As part of the “Meat the Need” campaign, Farm Bureau and Fareway partnered to donate 1 pound of lean protein to local food banks for every 10-pound tube of ground beef sold at Fareway from Oct. 30-Nov. 4. 

“Growing and raising the food that nourishes and sustains our communities is a source of tremendous pride for Iowa farmers,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Brent Johnson. “At the same time, food insecurity is a challenge that impacts families in communities across the state. We couldn’t be more proud to be part of this program and help ‘Meat the Need’ to help our neighbors during a time of need.” 

Jeff Cook, vice president of market operations for Fareway Stores, said the partnership was a natural fit for the Iowa-based grocery chain, renowned for its high-quality meat offerings. 

“We are proud to partner with Iowa Farm Bureau, the Food Bank of Iowa and the Iowa Food Bank Association to help food banks across Iowa,” he said. “Thank you to our generous customers for participating, Iowa stores and meat markets, and our partners at Iowa Farm Bureau for helping secure lean protein for local food banks going into the holiday seasons.”

Representatives of the Food Bank of Iowa said donations of meat and lean protein are their “greatest and constant need.” The organization recently completed a 30,000-square-foot addition to its Des Moines distribution center that nearly doubled its food storage capacity, including more than 12,500 square feet of freezer space to accommodate meat and protein donations like the two truckloads of ground protein donated by Farm Bureau and Fareway, said Emily Shearer, senior manager of food acquisition and advocacy. 

The Food Bank of Iowa partners with 700 agencies in 55 counties to distribute more than 1.5 million pounds of food each month, Shearer said.

Food insecure Iowans miss the equivalent of 68.2 million meals in a year, according to the Iowa Food Bank Association, which is a collaboration of Feeding America food banks and affiliates that serve each of Iowa’s 99 counties. 

In addition to the Food Bank of Iowa, its other affiliates include the Food Bank of Siouxland in northwest Iowa, Food Bank for the Heartland serving southwest Iowa, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, and the River Bend Food Bank and Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) Food Reservoir in east-central Iowa. 

Together, the food banks serve more than 1,200 nonprofit organizations including food pantries, emergency meal sites, congregational meal sites, emergency shelters and other sites that provide food to children, adults, veterans and seniors.