Iowa is the world's breadbasket, yet surprisingly, food insecurity is a problem that affects one out of every eight people living in our state. And Iowa is not alone; according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture some 50 million people living in the U.S. face hunger.
September is Hunger Action Month designed to bring awareness to widespread hunger in America and a good time to volunteer your time in the local community to help end hunger. The Food Bank of Iowa has teamed up with Feeding America for "30 Ways in 30 Days" a calendar of ideas for one good deed a day to help solve this pressing problem. Any one of the "30 Ways" is an opportunity for us to make a difference in the lives of Iowans who face hunger including the one in five children across the state, at risk of not having enough to eat.
While all of these ideas are things we can do on our own, there are plenty of ways to get involved with a group as well. Donating excess food from your community garden, or including your employer's donation match form along with your contribution to your local pantry, food bank, or shelter are small actions that can go a long way toward helping your neighbors put food on their tables. If you are a business owner, make sure to sign up your business to be a part of the 2012 Combat Hunger food drive November 15th and 16th in Des Moines.
You can start with simple things like wearing orange in honor of Hunger Action Month, reading a book about hunger to bring awareness to this national crisis, volunteering at your local shelter or soup kitchen, or trying to feed your entire family for a day on only $7 the average daily food stamp benefit for a family.
As the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, I have been fortunate enough to lead the efforts to enact the 2002 and 2008 farm bills. These bills and other initiatives expanded food support to millions of Americas by ensuring access to nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school meals, child and adult food programs, and food assistance for disaster relief. I am extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish, but our work is far from over.
As Iowans, we have a unique gift to come together and support each other. Hunger Action Month presents the perfect opportunity to do just that. So look up your closest food bank and see how you can help, or go online to foodbankiowa.org to check out the "30 Ways in 30 Days" calendar to help stop hunger now.