25-Year Impact Report: A letter from the director

For us to let anyone go without, when food is plentiful, is to say, “You don’t deserve to eat.”

As we wrap up our 25th year, we celebrate how far we’ve come and all that we’ve done together. Let me start our reflection on the past by painting a picture of the present.

Every pound counts…

  • In early 2022, 141 million dollars in emergency food assistance was cut from the State of Iowa budget, reducing benefits for every Iowan in the program. Meanwhile the USDA estimates that grocery prices have gone up by 11% in 2022.
  • Here on the ground, we’re seeing more neighbors seeking emergency food assistance than at any point in the last three years.
  • I recently read an account from a woman in another county who was turned away at her local pantry because she was a SNAP participant and they assumed she shouldn’t need more support. She writes, “I suddenly felt embarrassed and asked if she was sure. Like, hey, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t really need the help.” The common experience is that SNAP helps but is just not enough. Then there are those who don’t qualify for the program at all. We won’t turn away our neighbors.

    T2T staff members grin as they harvest carrots in a farm field.
    T2T staff on a glean at Trowel & Error Farm in 2022.

No one should feel embarrassed for trying to feed their family. As a society, we should be ashamed at the lengths our neighbors must go in order to access enough to eat. These folks are resourceful and resilient, prioritizing what little they have in ways that are most effective for their families. To make it work, many sacrifice a number of meals per week. Meanwhile, ever-tightening budgets limit affordability of the most nutritious foods.

…and we’re working harder for every pound

Food rescue organizations across the country have experienced unprecedented fluctuations in food donations.

  • Supply chain disruptions and inadequate staffing leave stores with bare shelves and fewer staff to pull food for donation. We must stop at donors more frequently to capture every available donation. More pick-ups mean more coordination, more volunteers, more fuel.
  • We have to maintain the capacity to say “yes” to more last-minute donations. Last month we got a call from a truck driver who had 700 pounds of ground beef, ribs, and roasts to offload in the next hour. With our new location and more staff, we readily accepted this valuable donation that we might have had to decline three years ago.
  • We’re harvesting directly from farms, working with more processors, and adding many smaller food outlets to our routes. The most requested foods are also the most costly to recover.

What does all this mean? Table to Table is working harder and investing more to capture every pound, and it is well worth the investment. Many of our partners would have to more than double their food purchasing budgets without our daily deliveries.

Your investment in Table to Table these past 25 years has fueled the flexibility and ingenuity of our team and our programs today.

Will you consider an additional gift this fall as we weather these new challenges and continue to build connections between abundance and hunger?

Nicki Ross holds a box of freshly harvested greens.In gratitude,

Nicki Ross