Staff Columnist

Your voice needed in battle against hunger

Food banks will rally Thursday at the Iowa Capitol and online to #EndHungerNow

Volunteers pack a bag of food at the Linn County Food Bank located at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Cedar Rapids in December 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Volunteers pack a bag of food at the Linn County Food Bank located at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Cedar Rapids in December 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Want to help fight hunger and food insecurity in Iowa? There’s a day set aside for that, and it happens this Thursday.

“Fighting Hunger in Iowa” is a public event at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines on Jan. 24. Led by the Iowa Food Bank Association and the Iowa Hunger Coalition, community partners are invited to be part of activities at the Capitol or educate on the impacts of hunger and food insecurity from where ever they are.

“Collaborations and partnerships make feeding Iowans as cost effective as possible,” said Linda Gorkow, executive director of the Iowa Food Bank Association and Iowa Hunger Coalition, “yet we acknowledge the need for more support and continued work to do more for the food insecure in Iowa. The Day on the Hill provides an opportunity for hunger-fighting organizations to come together to build partnerships, educate and talk to representatives from all across Iowa.”

“Sustainability is key in our work to feed food insecure Iowans. When Iowans are nourished, Iowa is stronger.”

- Linda Gorkow

Executive Director, Iowa Food Bank Association and Iowa Hunger Coalition

Those traveling to Des Moines who need or want advocacy tips should meet in the conference room behind the Statehouse cafeteria at 8:30 a.m. Activities will begin at 9:30 a.m. on the first floor of the Rotunda. Those unable to travel are encouraged to follow the Iowa Food Bank Association, @IowaFBA, and advocate on social media using the hashtag #EndHungerNow. Constituents are also urged to reach out to their representatives in the Legislature.

According to the Iowa Hunger Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization comprised of groups and individuals fighting hunger statewide, more than 370,000 Iowans struggle with food insecurity, the lack of access to enough nutritious food to lead a full and active life. The problem is pervasive, affecting people of all ages in communities large and small.

“Currently, we are missing 61 million meals annually in Iowa. Hunger is not acceptable in Iowa,” Gorkow said. “Sustainability is key in our work to feed food insecure Iowans. When Iowans are nourished, Iowa is stronger.”

During this session advocates would like to secure a sales tax exemption for organizations that fight hunger. The money, they say, would be better spent in furthering their food efforts. For instance, what is spent currently on sales tax would provide a minimum of 1,375,000 more meals through food banks alone.

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They hope to reinforce the importance of the farm bill and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and once again draw attention to the lack of state annual appropriations toward fighting hunger.

Representatives and community members are also invited to visit their local food bank. Currently there are six Feeding America network food banks in the state. The food banks work with more than 1,000 nonprofit agencies — pantries, feeding programs and more — to nourish food insecure Iowans.

“We celebrate the impressive work being done by thousands of organizations across the state,” Gorkow said.

Even so, more work remains. An interactive map developed by Feeding America shows the meal gap in Iowa by county. On average, 11.5 percent of Iowans are food insecure, and they need your voice.

• Comments: @LyndaIowa, (319) 368-8513, lynda.waddington@thegazette.com

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