Urbandale Food Pantry – Reaching Out to Neighbors With Dignity and Compassion


Food prices continue to soar, and many families struggle to meet basic needs. At Urbandale Food Pantry, community members reach out with dignity and kindness to meet the needs of neighbors in need.

The Polk County Food Pantry serves residents by providing pre-selected 3-day supplies of food and personal care items explicitly tailored for family sizes. All families must present ID and proof of address (utility bill or rent receipt) upon their first visit to receive this assistance.

Feeding the Community

Urbandale Food Pantry at Christ UMC is an ambitious community effort designed to reach out with dignity and compassion to neighbors in need in Polk County. They offer pre-sorted, nutritionally balanced three-day+ food supplies depending on family size and various essential items like milk, personal care products, and bread.

Iowa, which ranks second among agricultural states, still struggles with one out of nine households experiencing food insecurity. No one should have to choose between paying their rent and eating dinner, and Christ UMC wants to play an integral part in combatting that trend.

Patty Sneddon-Kisting, executive director of DMARC Food Pantry Network and Urbandale Ministerial Alliance, notes the stigma attached to using food pantries still exists in Iowa. She adds that people should know about food insecurity being an issue here in Iowa and must recognize this reality. We must transform conversations about this subject.

People living in Urbandale who meet income requirements visit one of 14 DMARC food pantries monthly for three days’ worth of groceries or more if necessary. On their initial visit, they must present photo identification and proof of address such as a utility bill, bank statement, or rent receipt – which must also show when visiting for the first time. Our food pantries are open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday between 10 a.m. and noon for food distribution.

Financial Assistance

Urbandale Food Pantry is provided as a service by the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) in partnership with the Food Bank of Iowa and community donations through one of 14 DMARC Food Pantry locations across Iowa. Clients can receive one monthly food bag of fresh and canned fruits and vegetables, pasta sauce, beans, tuna rice, cereal misc items, milk gallons, daily fresh produce bread, and personal care items. Sales opportunities are also provided at Urbandale.

Sneddon-Kisting estimates that approximately 2,500 households in the Urbandale area visit the food pantry on an average monthly basis, according to Sneddon-Kisting. Many of those relying on it work multiple jobs and still cannot make ends meet, while others rely on fixed income and have been struggling since the economic downturn or unexpected life events.

Sneddon-Kisting acknowledges food insecurity exists throughout her community and laments its associated stigma. She wants to change this narrative and urges community members to visit a food pantry near them to discover what options may be available, usually calling ahead first to see what documentation will be required, typically, photo ID and some form of mail with name and address information will do the trick.

Volunteer Opportunities

Urbandale Food Pantry works with neighbors with dignity and kindness by providing a pre-sorted, nutritionally balanced 3-day+ supply of food based on family size. Donated goods come from churches, businesses, schools, civic groups, and individuals within Polk County.

Christ UMC partners with the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) to manage an Urbandale Food Pantry that both DMARC stocks, the Food Bank of Iowa, and local donations – it is one of 14 pantries across Iowa run by DMARC.

The Food Pantry team works directly with guests, playing various roles: Greeter: welcomes clients at the door and offers assistance, alerting the team when guests are ready to begin shopping; Grocery Transporter: helps clients take their order from downstairs into their vehicle to complete an enjoyable shopping experience; Other duties may include inventory stocking back storage as well as general pantry clean up tasks.

Norm and Linda Mar, longtime volunteers at the Food Pantry, describe it as a gratifying volunteer experience for themselves. Among their favorite aspects are working together, lifting others, and making an impactful difference in their community. Plus, they love meeting wonderful people there who hope their lasting influence makes an impressionful impression! Norm and Linda look forward to continuing serving and are grateful for all the opportunities provided over time.


Food pantries rely on monetary and in-kind donations for their operation, with the latter providing funds needed to purchase in-demand items at discounted rates, while personal care items, cleaning supplies, seasonal supplies, and seasonal products are also accepted as donations. Volunteers form the backbone of food pantries; keeping shelves stocked while helping clients locate what they’re searching for and serving as the face of the organization are all vital roles within its culture.

Many are unaware that families in our community are struggling financially and need food assistance from food pantries. According to Sneddon-Kisting, some seek aid as they live paycheck-to-paycheck or have just recently lost their job; others come because their resources must stretch to survive.

Registering at their local food bank requires individuals to register either in-person or online with ID numbers, addresses, and family sizes as a precondition for receiving pre-packed bags of food and household supplies once every month or from The Pantry’s selection of refrigerated and frozen goods as well as gallon containers of milk. Once registered, individuals can visit either location once monthly to pick up pre-packed food bags and access various refrigerated and frozen items the Pantry stocks up on.

As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses and organizations have donated supplies to Urbandale Food Pantry. One Chick-fil-A on Merle Hay Road recently contributed 220 extra sandwiches on Monday night; on Tuesday, the Pantry distributed these to its clients as part of its monthly DMARC food bag distribution. Furthermore, Urbandale Food Pantry implemented social distancing measures, mask policy enforcement procedures, and sanitization protocols to limit the spread of infection.