Monthly Archives: May 2013
Last week I attended a community meal in Nevada, Iowa that is hosted twice a week by a church in town. Similar events are held in towns all across Iowa each week. Various churches and organizations take turns preparing the meal for 40 – 60+ individuals each time. I was pleasantly surprised to see a great mix of ages and family make up attending and learned that what started as a meal to serve low income struggling members of the community had evolved over time into a true “community meal”. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to bring friends and neighbors. It was very heartwarming to see neighbors breaking bread together with real plates and silverware and enjoying a night off from cooking and dishes. I also realized that there exists another type of hunger in our society, perhaps fueled by technology and the lack of personal contact many of us enjoy, especially as we get older. That is truly a hunger of the soul, characterized by loneliness and isolation. As we take great care to feed the body in our food banks and pantries, we need to tend to the spirit of our neighbor as well. I encourage you to find a community meal in your area and attend, whether you live alone or in a house full of people, and don’t forget to invite the neighbor lady who lives alone or the single fellow across the hall that you really never talk to. We may not know which hunger they need to satisfy.
Written by Cindy Jones, SNAP Outreach Worker for the Iowa Food Bank Association
Before beginning my internship at the Iowa Food Bank Association, I had little understanding of the issue of hunger in Iowa. Soon after starting, I learned the numbers: 408,000 Iowans who are food insecure, equating to roughly 1 in 8 Iowans, including 1 in 4 children. While these numbers allowed me to see the extent of the problem, it was still impersonal and an issue I saw from afar.
The paper plate campaign allowed me to truly see the faces of hunger and how hunger affects Iowans. Reading through plate after plate, I saw how unforeseen circumstances continually caused individuals to need to get help from the food bank or pantry. I read how, without this assistance, they and their children would go hungry or starve. I read how, without food from the pantries, individuals would have to choose between paying for their medicine and buying food. I read how women had to go to their pantry after their husband of many years left. I heard the voices of those affected by hunger and heard their stories.
I truly believe awareness is key to alleviating any issue, and this internship, specifically the paper plate campaign, has not only allowed me to become more aware of the issue of hunger, but allowed me to make others aware of it as well. Any issue can become depersonalized when looked at from afar, which is why it is important for us – and for you – to educate others on just how personal and close to home hunger is. There are individuals in your community suffering from hunger – children who can’t concentrate in school because of it, adults who are suffering from health problems due to lack of food, seniors who have worked hard all their life who now use a food pantry.
I urge you to go look at the plates on our Facebook page, so you too can have a better understanding of hunger. Then, take your awareness a step further and contact your legislator to encourage them to take action on this issue. This is an issue we can solve – if we make ourselves aware of it and then take action.
We brought the plates. Now help us to bring food to these plates.
Written by Allie Koolbeck, Policy and Advocacy Intern for the Iowa Food Bank Association.