Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Place At the Table

By now, many of you have had an opportunity to see the outstanding documentary “A Place at the Table”.  If you have not I strongly encourage that you watch it during the holidays when you and your family are gathered together counting your blessings.  The movie is eye-opening, even for the most seasoned food bank professional.

Did you know that, by the end of the 1970’s, hunger in the U.S. had virtually been eliminated, with the cooperation of government programs and private partnerships?  The following decade, government programs began to suffer drastic cuts and the private sector stepped up but food insecurity continued to increase each year.

One of my favorite parts of the film is an interview with Jeff Bridges.  I have always been a huge fan of his acting, but his efforts to fight hunger, especially for children, has made him one of my true ‘heroes’.  Jeff made an observation that was my ‘Ah-hah’ moment of this movie; he noted that eliminating hunger should be considered an act of patriotism, and that it is curious that no one would ever suggest that public defense be funded by the private sector, yet hunger is viewed as a problem for the food bank world to tackle as government tries to become smaller.  Indeed, feeding our citizens should not be ignored by our government, but should be seen as an ‘inalienable right’.

After your bountiful holiday meal, as you consider all that you are grateful for, why not switch the football game or latest action flick to watch “A Place at the Table”.   It will enlighten and inspire you for the new year as we all continue our efforts to eliminate hunger in America.

“A Place at the Table” is available on Netflix, I-tunes and RedBox, check your local Public Library to see if they may have a copy.  Enjoy!!

 

–Cindy Jones

Food Day

October 24th was Food Day. Food Day is a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. For Food Day I had received a package full of Food Day literature, stickers and buttons from the national office in Washing D.C.  Although, nothing formally planned for Food Day, The Food Bank of Siouxland had a mobile scheduled for the day. I was able to hand out about 50 Food Day brochures, stickers and buttons at an afternoon mobile pantry held in Onawa, Iowa on the 24th.  The Onawa distribution volunteers are from our agency, “Food 4 You” and they really thought it was cool that we had something to give out to the patrons with the date and information commemorating Food Day. I told them a little about Food Day and the idea of improving the quality, availability and community aspects of food.  The Food 4 U volunteers are a lot of fun to be around and they’re a lively bunch.

siouxlandpic

We also had 4 Briar Cliff University freshmen at the Food Bank in the morning that were put in my charge to sort commodities.  I gave them an overview of Food Day and a campaign button.  They had volunteered because of a class they were taking which focused on the life of St. Francis, specifically his vow to serve the impoverished.  We commended each other for our mutual service and vowed to lift a tankard in the Saint’s honor.  Never-the-less, I’m calling it an impromptu Food Day success.

-Paul Flemming, VISTA member at the Food Bank of Siouxland

Reflections on Feeding America’s ACPN Conference

As a SNAP Outreach Worker for the Iowa Food Bank Association it was my pleasure to attend the 2013 Agency Capacity, Programs and Nutrition Learning Conference. Luckily, the Conference was located in downtown Chicago with nearly 450 food bank representatives from across the nation in attendance. I was able to learn so many great lessons about being a SNAP Outreach Worker, how to improve our current program and what the future of outreach could look like.
The first day my partner and I were able to attend a SNAP Outreach session which allowed us to share our program model with other state outreach representatives. This opportunity also allowed us to take notes on ways to improve our methods. For example, we found that one of the ways we can better prepare our clients to successfully complete the SNAP application process is to provide them with a list of materials DHS might request. This will allow clients to take more time preparing this paperwork so they don’t feel rushed and are unable to complete the process.
On the second day we were able to attend a learning session hosted by the SNAP Capacity Institute which is a project spearheaded by Feeding America to bring together Outreach Workers from across the nation to develop new and innovative ways to effectively implement SNAP Outreach programs. During the session the Capacity Institute participants presented the findings from their first year of implementing new programs. These creative ideas helped spark a lively discussion which helped us all build on our current programs and look to the future in the hopes of improving all of our methods to maximize effectiveness.
One of the most important things that I learned while attending the ACPN Conference was to remember that every person that we help is a person and not just a number. After we complete their application they become a part of a system which makes them a number in a long line of numbers requesting help. From the first moment we engage our clients to the last moment we interact with them it is my challenge as a SNAP Outreach Worker to always remember that they are a person and not just a number. No matter how similar their story may be, it is not just another story but a person’s life that I am trying to impact for the better.
Altogether, the ACPN Conference provided me with the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the work that I do every day. I learned so much from my colleagues and the SNAP Capacity Institute has given me so many new and creative ideas to help increase the effectiveness of SNAP Outreach in Iowa. As a result, it is with a new sense of understanding and hope that I undertake my daily efforts in the fight to end hunger.

–Katie Reidy