Author Archives: lindseyhaley
Doing outreach at Goodwill on Sunday afternoon is always an interesting and inspiring experience. There is always a tag sale; today all clothing with a pink tag is 50% off. Although it is cold and blustery, by two o’clock I have visited with over 50 families, educating them about the benefits of food assistance and listening to a wide range of opinions on the subject.
Did you know that if you live alone and make $10 an hour for a forty hour week that you are ineligible for food assistance by $43? Well $10 an hour is decent money but “Shirley” still finds herself deciding between buying food and paying the light bill, especially when the temperature is near zero for so many consecutive days. Thankfully, I can refer her to several good pantries nearby and encourage her to visit them.
In the door comes “Julie” with a big smile for me because just two months ago when we met, she referred a friend whose disabled son is friends with her son, also on disability for a congenital brain disorder. Two months ago “Julie” shared that her family was doing fine with both parents working full time and their son receiving SSI benefits. Fast forward to today, when she reports that her husband has been diagnosed with cancer and will not be able to work for at least a year. He has been approved for Social Security Disability and only has to wait six months for that to begin. She is fortunate to have FMLA which allows her to take off work for his multiple hospital trips. But that is unpaid time off, of course, so she gratefully takes my information and will call me next week to get together to complete a SNAP application. Her cheerful demeanor inspires me, but she tells me of many years ago when they came home with a baby with a severe brain disorder and not much information and no internet to study and learn. She says those dark days have helped her with this diagnosis and she will find the strength to go on.
And hopefully they will be approved for SNAP for as long as they need it, and that will remove even one small worry. The cold wind is blowing in more customers so I greet more customers with a warm smile. Oh, and I managed to move some merchandise from my table, too. We are all here to help, right?
–Cindy Jones, SNAP Outreach Coordinator
January marks the beginning of another Iowa Legislative Session. This also brings opportunities to speak up for the 389,730 hungry children, adults, and seniors living right here in our state. Governor Branstad assured the state that “together we can” in his Condition of the State address on January 13th. He stated that by “working together we can find a solution to any problem”. I say, “ABSOLUTELY!” Tackling hunger should be a public-private partnership. Now is the time for all of us to speak up on behalf of our friends and neighbors.
I invite you to join the Iowa Food Bank Association, Feeding America food banks serving Iowa, food pantries, advocates, and volunteers at the Iowa State Capitol for the 2015 Anti-Hunger Day on the Hill on January 28. We’ll be sharing stories, advocating for improved policy, and encouraging our legislators to vote in favor of anti-hunger legislation.
The Iowa Food Bank Association has two legislative priorities this session:
- Sales Tax Exemption for Food Banks – The Iowa Food Bank Association is requesting sales tax exemption for the eight Feeding America Food Banks that serve all 99 counties. An exemption from sales tax would allow food banks to allocate more funds for programs such as: food distribution, mobile food pantries, Kids Café, Backpack programs, elderly nutrition programs, and community and corporate gardening programs.
- State Food Purchase Program Appropriation – The Iowa Food Bank Association is requesting that Iowa join the 37 other states who received state support. A State Food Purchase Program Appropriation would allow food banks to purchase food for more than 1,000 emergency feeding organizations that serve all of Iowa’s 99 counties. An appropriation would immediately increase the amount of food distributed and reduce the devastating impact of hunger. A $1,000,000 appropriation would create 4,500,000 meals for Iowans.
Advocating on behalf of hungry Iowans is the best thing we can do. We not only need to share the stories of our struggling friends and neighbors, we also need to share the stories of success. Addressing hunger has a lasting impact on an individual’s health, a child’s education opportunity, and the state’s economy. This issue cannot be ignored if we all do our part. It’s time that our elected leaders understand that addressing hunger should be a public-private partnership. As Governor Branstad so enthusiastically said in his Address, “working together we can find a solution to any issue”. Let’s hold him to that.
Cory Berkenes, State Director
2015 Legislative Breakfast and Anti-Hunger Day On The Hill
Wednesday, January 28th
7:00-9:00 am Breakfast with Legislators in Rotunda
9:00am-1:00 pm Individual & Group Meetings with Legislators
An informational and training webinar will be held Thursday, January 22.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
By Cindy Jones, SNAP Outreach Coordinator
There are many times we feel a great sense of accomplishment doing SNAP Outreach, since the whole goal is to reach out to those in need and try to fill in at least one gap for those in need through food assistance. But I have found the satisfaction is tenfold during the holiday season because our assistance often makes the difference for families at what can be a most difficult time. An example would be “Maggie” who left me a very distraught message two days before Thanksgiving because she had heard nothing from DHS after having her phone interview . By the time I reached her the next day, she had received her card in the mail with her retroactive benefits and she was ecstatic because they would be shopping for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal!
Or “Paul” who I assisted while he was signing up for Salvation Army’s holiday basket and toys, who pointed out that the SNAP benefits they would receive would relieve their stress for months past the holidays, for which he was very grateful. The examples go on and on but the message is the same.
I can tell you, I enjoyed the holidays even more because I can remember the families who have touched me this year. Happy New Year!
We don’t always see what is happening in our own community. We are so busy with our daily lives that if we are not exposed to people outside our vision then maybe it doesn’t exist. It does exist. Hunger. In every part of this state. In every county.
Three months ago I accepted the position of SNAP Outreach Coordinator with the Iowa Food Bank Association, covering half of Iowa – 50 counties. My passion to help others and to join a team of people who make a real difference brought me here.
To actually be in the presence of hunger each day is an awakening. I see how much of a need there is in every community to help our neighbors with food insecurity. Each person has a unique story. I see young mothers working to provide for their kids, seniors barely making their income get them through the month and thankful for their next meal, disabled individuals struggling physically just to make it to the local pantry and so thankful for the box of food, and the homeless folks joining others for a community meal and surviving yet another day. I see each one and help as I can. It is so fulfilling to reach out and do this work. And there really are not enough hours in the day. If you could see what I see … I have truly found my place.
Have you thought about being a volunteer? The Iowa Food Bank Association could use your help! If you are interested in becoming a SNAP Outreach Volunteer and assisting in the fight against hunger by helping individuals sign up for SNAP benefits, please contact me at 319-529-0566 or email@example.com.
Teri Winkey, Iowa Food Bank Association SNAP Outreach Coordinator