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DES MOINES, Iowa (May 19, 2020) –  Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) announced today during its online “Heroes for the Homeless” annual event that the Schoen family has made a lead gift of $50,000 for the expansion of its Mulberry Farm and Food greenhouse operations. The family extended a challenge to the community to invest with them. For every dollar donated, the Schoens will do an additional match of up to $75,000 for a total family contribution of $125,000.

“Investing in our organization through the expansion of our Mulberry Farm and Food means we can further expand opportunities in our emergency shelter, provide nutritious food options for hungry Iowans and promote asset accumulation for low- to moderate income residents,” explained Melissa O’Neil, CISS CEO. “The Schoen family continually look for ways to offer opportunities for the homeless in our community to lead a better quality of life.”

CISS opened its greenhouse operation, known as Mulberry Farm and Food, when it moved to its new location at 1420 Mulberry Street in 2012. Last year, the organization harvested approximately 10,000 pounds of food that was used to make meals for the people staying at the shelter and anyone food deprived. The additional greenhouse space will expand the current farm by 3,200 sq feet and include a hydroCycle Commercial Aquaponics System.  This new system allows the natural biological functions of both fish and plants, maximizing business potential by providing the opportunity to tap into two markets.

“Too many people today have lost hope and lost their dignity,” explained Don Schoen. “Our family makes this gift in memory of my wife Maddie, who lost a battle with cancer in February – she envisioned people growing food, nourishing their bodies and souls along the way.”

CISS Greenhouse Donation

The Schoen family, along with CISS, launches their “Grow with us” fundraising campaign and invites the community to donate toward the expansion of the CISS Mulberry Farm and Food Program. Interested donors may make a donation of any size by going to

“If the community meets the dollar for dollar challenge and raises $75,000, when combined with the match and the lead donation of $50,000, CISS will have a total of $200,000 to go toward the expansion of our greenhouse – we can’t wait!,” added O’Neil.

Central Iowa Shelter & Services provides 150 emergency shelter beds, 19 efficiency apartments for Veterans and 38 section 8 efficiency apartments for a total of 207 beds.


Our Impact This Year

  • Number of People Served This Year


  • Lbs harvested from Mulberry Farms & Food This Year


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