This is National Hunger Awareness Day and hundreds of state government employees attended a picnic on the steps of the statehouse over the noon-hour to kick off the 24th Annual State Employee Food Drive. Iowa Utilities Board chairman John Norris is heading the state employee food drive, which runs through June 15th.
A couple of state departments are holding fundraisers, others have teams of employees competing against one another to raise more money and food than the other teams. Last year, state employees raised 67-thousand dollars for the Food Bank of Iowa and brought in 30,000 pounds of food.
"It’s a big piece of the annual financial contributions to the Food Bank of Iowa," Norris says. "They serve local food pantries in 42 counties throughout central Iowa so it helps with their operations. They also us it to buy product that they don’t get enough donated of, high-protein items like tuna and peanut butter that kids need."
Norris says he hopes the state employees’ food drive prompts other Iowans to give to the cause. "The Food Bank of Iowa through their partner agencies serve 13,500 people weekly," Norris says. The average income of a household who uses a food pantry in Iowa is less than eight-hundred dollars a month and 40 percent of the households where food is scarce — and the Food Bank helps provide food — have children living in the home.
About 22,000 state employees are being urged to participate in the food drive. That does not include the folks who work on the state university campuses in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City.