DES MOINES, Iowa — Answering the question ‘What’s for dinner?’ has become a difficult one to answer for many Iowans in the wake of Monday’s derecho storm.
Hundreds of thousands of Iowans are still without power and likely now have a refrigerator filled with spoiled food. According to the FDA, a refrigerator without power will only keep food cold for about four hours. A freezer can maintain food at a safe temperature up to 48 hours, but only if you keep the door closed.
If you didn’t act yesterday to move food to coolers or pack your freezer with dry ice, its likely everything perishable in your fridge has now perished. But there is help available for hungry residents right now.
The city of Des Moines’ ongoing emergency food distribution program started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is serving the public during our current storm recovery as well. The city offers at least five locations each day where residents can get a free, hot meal.
Des Moines Public Schools has shifted its food distribution program to include shelf-stable items. Currently the program has 22 sites and is available to anyone 18 and under. Each child receives breakfast and lunch in a take away bag.
“We know that it’s important now we’ve lost refrigeration, you know, many schools, many, many homes have lost refrigeration and freezer. So let us take care of that for you. So come out and see us,” said Amanda Miller director of food nutrient services at DMPS.
Central Iowa Shelters and Services is also partnering with local restaurants and food trucks to offer free food right now through their Summer Meals program. Free meals are provided on weeknights at locations across the city.
During the derecho Urban Dreams lost power, therefore having to give away all of its food items. Executive director Izaah Knox says they will still have a hot meal distribution tomorrow and Thursday where they plan to give away 500 meals on each day.
The nonprofit is currently giving away 150 cases of shelf stable milk and Powerade, they will be open until 7 pm tonight.
“The second that we get power we will be out to our partners picking up food, making sure that we have food in our refrigerators for people to have meals to take home and to last throughout the night and the day of the week,” said Knox.
The Black Liberation Movement, formally known as Black Lives Matter is also packing meals to hand out throughout the neighborhoods near Urban Dreams.