Iowa is home to a very rambunctious credit union system. A total of 80 credit unions manage over $33 billion in assets growing at double digit rates.
Several larger Iowa coops have bought banks to expand their franchises faster. 63 are suing NCUA over the agency’s failure to honor the plain language on its Corporate Claims Certificates.
Then there is a relatively small credit union who is currently suing Apple for restrictions in its Apple Pay product. This same CEO has joined the board of a local bank.
The bank has two major centers in Des Moines and Ottumwa from which it serves affiliates in 55 counties throughout the state.
The board director is Jim Dean. CEO of Affinity Credit Union. The bank is Food Bank of Iowa, a 501 C 3. It reaches over 300,000 children, seniors, veterans and persons who experience food insecurity during the year. In 2022 it distributed over 1.2 million pounds of food per month through 700 frontline partners.
The administrative offices, warehouse, and distribution-delivery capabilities are supported by volunteers who come daily to prepare boxes for local delivery. To carry out its mission, the Food Bank relies on almost 10,000 persons who freely give their time and labor.
A Common Cause
On factor in food insecurity is the inability of many to earn a living wage. The issue “comes and goes” for individuals as economic circumstances affect individuals’ opportunities.
When asked why the Food Bank partnered with Affinity Credit Union, Vice President Bergetta Beardsley, who is responsible for fund raising, replied simply, “There is a natural relationship with those we both serve.”
Why Is Affinity Involved?
Food banks have been an important part of Jim’s volunteer work during his credit union career. In addition to the overlaps of those facing financial and/or food insecurity, these two organizations share the same values.
Volunteer activity is part of Affinity’s culture. The credit union provides employees with two days paid leave per year to serve their community. The CEO’s participation raises awareness with staff about the Food Bank’s multiple roles.
The credit union promotes the Food Bank with special 30 second radio spots and ads on their delivery trucks. In some instances, the credit union has assisted with food pantries for schools in their communities.
Even more strategic isAffinity’s example. It connects the financial reach and capacity of the coop system to this critical organization serving over 10% (300,000) of Iowa residents with food.
An Ever-Expanding Effort
Credit unions, like individuals, are known by the company they keep. Two nonprofits, Affinity and Food Bank of Iowa, are joined in a common purpose of service and personal well being.
Across the country today, many families help their local communities with food drives. Schools arrange canned food collections for holidays; there are special hunger offerings and food drop-offs at churches and community centers.
But experiencing the scale and scope of this central wholesale operation (55,000 square feet) is an eye opener. It provides food to schools, day care centers, senior and community commons, church pantries and other institutions. The operating budget is approximately $30 million.
A Visit in Photos
Here are some of the pictures from my visit to the Food Bank’s Des Moines’ office, volunteer center and warehouse. Our guide was Bergetta.
The volunteer reception area with mission, vision and values:
A wholesale delivery of potatoes to be repackaged.
Converted to individual sized quantities..
Just one of several volunteer groups for the day who helped pack boxes for delivery.
Pallet being loaded for delivery to a Day Care.
Bergetta showing pasta provided in bulk from a corporate donor.
Another pallet ready for delivery.
Part of the massive warehouse. Storage racks with supplies and shrink-wrapped deliveries.
Food delivery trucks backed into loading dock.
Affinity Credit Unions adds its support on the back of the delivery trucks.
Even if an individual stops by the head office needing food, a box is always ready.
Organizations write thanking Affinity volunteers.
Isn’t this a Bank we all might like to join?