Week of events in Johnson County aim to highlight hunger and homelessness

Maddie Marshall, 21, a senior at the University of Iowa and member of the Order of Omega, sets up a bake sale at the Iow
Maddie Marshall, 21, a senior at the University of Iowa and member of the Order of Omega, sets up a bake sale at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Monday. A bake sale benefiting Shelter House is one of many events happening this week in recognition of National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week. (Lee Hermiston/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Hunger and homelessness take many shapes and forms and affect a variety of people.

With that in mind, Shelter House in Iowa City is planning a range of activities this week to mark National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week to highlight issues related to hunger, homelessness and poverty. The event was started by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.

“I think that an issue such as hunger and homelessness is something that affects so many people, but we don’t always realize how many people it affects,” said Angelica Vannatta, development director for Shelter House. “If we can try to reach a broader spectrum of people, we can educate them on all of these issues. This week for us is not only about educating, it’s about advocating and inspiring others to act.”

Vannatta said Shelter House has hosted a week of programming and outreach events for three years, and each year the programming has expanded.

“We’re really excited about some of the things we have going on this year,” Vannatta said.

Activities this week have included a faith partners worship service, a student bake sale and a Housing is Health Care discussion panel moderated by Iowa Sen. Zach Wahls.

Vannatta said a recurring event this week will be a children’s story time at nine local elementary schools. The story time will be an opportunity for students to learn about hunger and homelessness and learn what they can do to help others.


“It’s just a safe space for students to learn about a topic that might be somewhat sensitive,” Vannatta said.

A dozen local restaurants will participate tonight in Foodies Fighting Homelessness by offering a three-course meal with a wine or beer pairing for ticket buyers. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Shelter House.

Other events this week include a soup luncheon and sock drive Thursday at the Congregational United Church of Christ, 30 N. Clinton St., and a community connections day open to people or veterans experiencing homelessness or poverty. The connections day event will provide attendees with access to community resources and gear for winter.

On Friday, there will be a one-time screening of the documentary film “Lost in America.” In the film, director Rotimi Rainwater — a former homeless youth — travels the country to expose youth homelessness in America.

Vannatta said Raygun also is selling a T-shirt created last year that says “Housing is a Human Right.” A percentage of sales through the end of the month will go to Shelter House.

“It is pretty fun to see different people wearing the shirt,” Vannatta said.

A complete list of the National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week events can be found at

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