How hunger became “personal” for me
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.