DES MOINES, Iowa – The organizers of the annual World Food Prize celebration in Des Moines are adding a new – and uniquely Iowa – event to the calendar this year to focus on the state’s contribution to the fight against hunger.
With Iowa’s three former governors – Robert Ray, Terry Branstad and Tom Vilsack – serving as honorary co-chairs, and the partnership of groups including Iowa State University Extension, the Iowa Hunger Summit will unite Iowans from around the state and from a variety of backgrounds on Tuesday, Oct. 16, for a day of events.
“The Iowa Hunger Summit will celebrate Iowa’s many efforts and activities to counteract hunger; enhance public attention to both causes of and solutions to hunger; and encourage increased action and partnerships among Iowans to continue fighting hunger,” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.
The high point of the event will be when Hunger Summit organizers announce the total amount in dollars that Iowa, as a state, has contributed over the past year to the cause of fighting hunger – whether here at home or abroad. The announcement will take place at a “hunger luncheon” at noon on Oct. 16, featuring a simple meal and a keynote address by David Beckmann, president of the anti-hunger advocacy center Bread for the World and of the national Alliance to End Hunger.
In advance of that announcement, organizers are contacting charitable groups, community associations, civic leaders, religious communities, businesses, schools and private citizens across Iowa to gather information on the variety of anti-hunger projects Iowans lead or participate in. Iowans also can go to www.iowahungersummit.org to share stories and submit information on their activities and involvement in fighting hunger.
“Given Extension’s commitment to Iowa’s values of healthy people, healthy environments and healthy economies, and the importance of community partnerships, I have pledged the support of our county offices in reaching out to Iowa communities and encouraging Iowans to participate in this event,” said Jack Payne, vice president for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Other events focusing on issues related to hunger will take place around the “hunger luncheon.” The morning program will begin with a panel of UN ambassadors discussing food security globally. Iowa OneVote08 will host a bipartisan forum on issues, policy and actions related to hunger and poverty. In the afternoon, the United Nations Foundation is sponsoring an address by former Rep. Jim Leach. A complete schedule is available with ongoing updates at www.iowahungersummit.org.
Oct. 16 is celebrated globally as World Food Day and in Iowa as Dr. Norman E. Borlaug/World Food Prize Day, in honor of the native Iowan and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate whose agricultural advancements and dedicated humanitarianism ushered in the “Green Revolution” in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and saved more than a billion lives.
Dr. Borlaug founded the $250,000 World Food Prize, headquartered in Des Moines, in 1986 to honor outstanding achievements that have improved the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world. In July, Dr. Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest civilian honor.
“The goal of the World Food Prize is to honor Dr. Borlaug’s lifesaving accomplishments and extend his legacy into the next generation by holding ‘the most significant observance of World Food Day anywhere around the globe’ right here in his home state,” explained Quinn. “We are proud to be working with such great partners in making the Iowa Hunger Summit a great success and another step toward that goal.”
Facts about Hunger
(From the 2007 Hunger in Iowa report, by Susan Roberts and Erin Feld in conjunction with the Drake University Agricultural Law Center)
-- Studies indicate that approximately half (49.2 percent) of all American children will have received food stamps or food assistance by the time they reach age 20. In addition, 51 percent of adults will participate in a national food assistance program at some time during their working life (between ages 20 and 65).
-- 421,350 Iowans experience “low food security”; the occasional or recurrent lack of adequate nutritious, safe food or the limited or uncertain ability to access that food in acceptable ways.
-- The overall percentage of food insecure households in Iowa has risen from 8 percent in 1996-1998 to 10.9 percent in 2003-2005. Also, 46 percent of Iowa single-mother households are food insecure; 40.6 percent of all Iowa households with children are food insecure; and 14.9 percent of elderly households are food insecure.