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Message from the Executive Director

I’m going to share some numbers with you.

There are 99,000 Polk County residents who are food insecure according to a recent study conducted by Des Moines University. Of those people, 72,000 have enough to eat, thanks to services like our food pantry. We served more than 16,000 people in 2017. That’s 22% of the Polk County residents who’re food insecure but still manage to have enough to eat most of the time.


Food aside, we’re helping families in our community clothe themselves, obtain diapers, other basic toiletries and household goods; and afford childcare and preschool for their children. Bidwell's community garden supplies fresh produce to supplement our pantry food.


Our Distribution Center, the largest food pantry in Central Iowa, is one of fourteen pantries that operates under the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) umbrella and provides a food supply meant to sustain families for a three-day period. Clients can receive this three-day supply once per calendar month. In extenuating circumstances, additional emergency food is provided through the generous donations of area residents. Personal items, clothes and toiletries are also available to Distribution Center visitors, supplied by donations from the community. Last year, we distributed approximately 149,000 clothing items, 37,000 diapers, 1,500 baby formula or food, and 29,000 personal items. Access to food, toiletries, diapers, baby food, formula, clothing and household items is vital to our clients, and the need is not subsiding- from 2011 to 2017, the number of individuals served by the Distribution Center increased by 108%.


In 2017, the Child Development Center (CDC) served 75 children, and 75% of our families received tuition relief through Bidwell or qualify for child care assistance through the Department of Human Services.  The CDC prepares children for kindergarten through the partnership with Des Moines Public Schools and our Universal Pre-K classroom and the United Way of Central Iowa.


Through our work in the community, we’re sending a powerful message that at-risk children can be given the same quality education as others, and that our neighbors should not go hungry. This year, Bidwell has served the community for 125 years. That kind of longevity can only be achieved through the support of our devoted friends, volunteers, and donors, for whom we are immensely grateful.



Thanks for being a friend to Bidwell as we build hope for our community.



Tim Shanahan

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