Iowa food banks rescue more than 27 million pounds of food annually

by | Apr 22, 2024 | 5 Ag Stories, News

Iowa’s food banks make every day Earth Day in their efforts to divert perfectly good food from landfills and instead get it onto dinner tables for Iowans facing food insecurity.

This Earth Day, the Iowa Food Bank Association announces 27.1 million pounds of food was rescued in 2023 by the six Feeding America food banks serving Iowa. As one of those members, Food Bank of Iowa and its partners contributed 7.1 million pounds to this number.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, up to 40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted every year. Food banks rely on retail rescue to meet the growing and record need for food assistance. In fact, preventing wholesome food from going to the landfill is the very reason food banking began.

By working with grocery and convenience stores, manufacturers, growers and restaurants, IFBA food banks are able to supplement their inventories, keep pantry shelves stocked, and bring food waste down to as low as 3%.

“Food rescue is a primary function of food banks,” said Linda Gorkow, executive director of the Iowa Food Bank Association. “Food banks rescue perfectly good packaged and uncooked food that is safe to eat and use it to help feed those in our communities who do not have enough food.”

Food banks adhere to strict food handling, temperature and storage guidelines to ensure the food they distribute is safe. The food they rescue may be mislabeled, close-dated or needs to be repackaged in some way. Fresh produce may not be the perfect size or shape, or a donor may simply have a surplus. Food banks make sure good food that might otherwise be discarded instead goes to neighbors facing hunger.

“As part of the Iowa Food Bank Association, we collaborate across the state to recover food and help the environment,” said Food Bank of Iowa CEO Michelle Book. “By getting this food to communities facing hunger, we also prevent millions of pounds from clogging landfills and help mitigate climate change. Our commitment to sustainability will only grow as we strive to meet record demand for food assistance.”

“Advocacy is also a big part of what we do at the Iowa Food Bank Association, and our member food banks are working to help their communities understand food dates,” said Gorkow. “For example, a best-by or use-by date on food isn’t an indication of safety but rather optimal quality. Yet, many people see that date and will needlessly throw away good food.”

To learn more about food rescue and how you can help prevent waste, contact Food Bank of Iowa, your local food bank or visit