Fostering Relationships and Filling the Gap

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Eat Greater Des Moines’ Food Rescue Transportation program launched as a pilot program in April 2018. Since then, the program has developed and changed in ways that make it easier for organizations WITH food to donate to organizations that NEED food. In the midst of COVID, EGDM saw an increased need for food recovery in the Des Moines area and hired more contracted drivers – one of which is Tim Clark. 

“Food recovery has been on my mind for years,” Clark said. “I have always been a supporter of local farming and especially with the number of food deserts around Des Moines, I try to help out in any way that I can.”  

Clark picks up from 6 Kum n’ Go locations three days a week and delivers the rescued food to organizations like Sweet Tooth Community Fridge, Urban Dreams, Children and Family Urban Movement, Hubbell Properties, and Des Moines Public Schools.  

“I try to connect with anyone and everyone that I pick up from and deliver to. I like to see how what we do works, the communities that these organizations serve, and how we can do better,” Clark said.

Clark’s passion for recovery started when he first became aware of the food insecurity that many kids in elementary school face, even in a city like Des Moines. He began helping with BackPack Buddies, a program that provides nutritionally balanced food to children on Fridays during the school year. 

“Once again, I was shocked how many of these kids go hungry on the weekends,” Clark said. “It’s tear-jerking how grateful these kids and families are. The need is so big, so whether it is with BackPack Buddies, providing meals to people on holidays, or driving routes for food recovery, I am more than happy to help.”

Driving routes for EGDM has allowed Clark to begin to establish relationships with the community that he serves. “It’s rewarding to see those benefits of what I am doing. Instead of just dropping off food and not knowing who is picking it up, the relationships and bonds formed add so much to the depth of what we do,” Clark said.

Clark is one person among many that are playing a role in filling the gap in the food system. As an individual, you too can play a part in strengthening our food system and helping more people have access to healthy food.

“Food is one of our basic needs. The more that we are nourished, the healthier the community is. Do your research and take some action with what you find is missing in your community. Never stop – there is always something that can be improved in the food system.” 

Look around your community. Where is food available and where is food needed? Ask your grocery or convenience store what their food recovery plan includes. If they have a plan in place, let the company know you appreciate their commitment to valuing food resources. If they don’t have a plan, ask them what they need to put in place. When more grocers partner in food recovery, more food can be saved and distributed throughout the DSM community. Ask the tough questions & play a part in making the food system better for everyone.