West Des Moines, Iowa - Meals from the Heartland, a volunteer-based organization that provides millions of meals for the hungry each year packaged by volunteers, has unveiled plans to build a new $1.9 million packaging center in West Des Moines. Des Moines business leader Bill Knapp donated 2.9 acres of land in West Des Moines to build the new “Patty Cownie Center,” named after another lead contributor and long-time supporter of many Des Moines civic projects.
“Hunger and volunteerism: Meals from the Heartland deals with both,” said Patty Cownie. “My family and I are very pleased to support this most worthy project.”
The new, 14,841 square-foot Meals from the Heartland Patty Cownie Center will be located at 357 Lincoln Street, just south of Valley Junction and west of 63rd street in West Des Moines. Since 2008, more than 100,000 volunteers have donated the time, energy and funding to prepare more than 31 million meals for hungry people in Polk County, the state of Iowa and throughout the world. A celebratory groundbreaking will be held June 10, with construction to begin this summer.
Meals from the Heartland Chairman Jerry Armstrong said this project will help Meals from the Heartland significantly expand the critical work to engage volunteers to package and deliver more meals each year to hungry people in Central Iowa and around the world.
“The need to fight hunger here in Iowa is an ever-increasing battle,” Armstrong said. “This project will be a huge step for the Des Moines metro area and the entire state of Iowa in winning the battle.”
In addition to donating the building site, Knapp is leading the effort to raise money and in-kind donations from Iowa individuals and businesses to fund the construction of the $1.9 million project. To date, the organization has raised approximately 92% of the needed funds and is still actively seeking the remaining donations needed, said treasurer Dan Koestner.
Armstrong also said “Iowans come together whenever there is a need. It is amazing how individuals, business, government, civic groups, and churches have agreed to help us make the fight against hunger a reality. The generosity of so many is making a huge difference.”
Meals from the Heartland partners with other organizations to help with the distribution of meals to hungry people. Key distribution partners include Convoy of Hope, the Food Bank of Iowa, Des Moines Area Religious Council food pantries as well as local distribution partners in the Urban Core Initiative, part of the Capital Crossroads project focused on improving living conditions in the core of the metro area.
Meals from the Heartland Executive Director Dave Bradley said “Food insecurity is a challenge that continues to grow. This new packaging center and warehouse will greatly increase the capacity to package meals on a year-round basis and engage even more volunteers in the effort. Meals produced at the new center, along with the fall Annual Hunger Fight at Hy-Vee Hall and the many mobile events held each year will help us ensure a greater and consistent supply of meals.”
Meals From the Heartland is a 501(c)3 organization formed in 2008. It began with a one-time event that year and has developed into a full-time hunger relief organization.
See KCCI-TV’s coverage of this news!