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Iowa’s beer distributors provide community response to COVID-19

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David Adelman

Iowa’s beer distributors are local, family-owned, independent businesses that employ thousands of Iowans in stable, high-quality jobs. In normal times, Iowa’s beer distributors are the people working behind the scenes to get your beer where it needs to go — from the brewer to the place you enjoy or buy it.

Together, Iowa’s beer distributors employ almost 2,000 people across the state who work with local Iowa breweries to transport your favorite beers and other beverages like water, juice and soda to neighborhood restaurants, bars and grocery stores. Dawn to dusk, rain or snow, every week of the year, we work tirelessly to keep Iowa’s beer and beverage economy — and the thousands of jobs that depend on it — thriving.

But Iowa’s beer distributors are not only about business. Our members are family-owned; we live, raise our families, volunteer and socialize in the communities we serve. With our deep local ties and vast distribution networks, we have deployed our resources and expertise during this pandemic to help boost other local business owners, support first responders and help vulnerable populations. When COVID-19 hit and ground our local economies to a halt, Iowa’s beer wholesalers stepped up to serve their communities in immediate ways and to support frontline workers.

We know this pandemic has exacerbated the food insecurity issues around our state. Doll Distributing, with operations in Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Spencer, stepped up supplying a truck and driver to the Food Bank of Iowa to deliver food across the state during this difficult time. In total, 3,500 miles have been logged since April driving for the Food Bank. They’ve also assisted at a mobile food pantry for veterans, where Doll Distributing helped place prepacked food boxes into cars of veterans in need.

7G, based in Eastern Iowa, lent a helping hand to many local nonprofits. 7G offered one of its 53-foot trailers to Hawkeye Area Community Action Program. The local food reservoir needed assistance in transporting 50-plus pallets of food to an offsite venue to pack food boxes for their Drive-Through Food Pantry today. 7G Distributing also redeployed some of its sales staff to help support Linn Area Partners Active in Disaster (LAP- AID) and Dubuque Labor Harvest, two local food pantries. Their team was able to assist in food deliveries to lower income families.

Iowa Beverage Systems has supported local taverns and restaurants by purchasing over $20,000 in gift cards and giving them to our front-line employees to use.

There were countless other forms of generosity extended by our members. All our Iowa distributors across the state partnered with their major suppliers, AB InBev and Molson Coors providing much needed relief through the Iowa Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to our bartenders and restaurants hit hard by this crisis.

Since Iowa’s beer distributors have long-standing relationships with first responders, they sprang into action to address their needs by donating cases of non-alcoholic beverages to those serving on the frontlines. We also were proud participants in the Pass the Pork initiative led by Lt. Gov Adam Gregg.

Beer distributors’ commitment to their communities runs deep; it infuses everything they do. Beer distributors often say that our employees are not just staff, they are family. Our distributors kept employees working and being paid when it would’ve been easy to furlough due to bars and restaurants being closed.

In this tremendous time of need, distributors are extending that notion of “family” to all of those who live, work and serve in our communities and doing what we can to help them.

Together, as Iowans, we will get through these difficult times.

David Adelman is executive director of the Iowa Beer Wholesalers Association.

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