The Food Bank of Iowa has set a fundraising goal to supply 300,000 meals to needy Iowans.

Spokesperson Danny Akright says the lofty goal is for Combat Hunger, the organization’s largest annual food and fund drive. “I know last year we hit 270,000 meals, which was the best we’ve ever done, so this year we’re pushing that even higher,” Akright said. “We want to surpass that 300,000 meal milestone and really make a great difference for food insecure Iowans.”

The Combat Hunger effort runs between now and November 15th and 16th, when Food Bank volunteers will head out to pick up the collected food and funds. Akright suggests schools, businesses, and other organizations can help by arranging competitions. “They’ll have a competition to see who can raise the most money or bring in the most food and have some sort of incentive – a casual day, a pizza party, or something like that,” Akright said. “We’ve found that really helps encourage team members to get involved and get behind this.”

Despite Iowa’s low unemployment rate and positive economic news, Akright notes one in nine Iowans – including one in six kids – struggle with food insecurity. “We distribute a million pounds of food every month and that’s only meeting about half of the need. So, we’re working our hardest to double that and get up to 2 million pounds every month,” Akright said.

The Food Bank of Iowa serves 55 of the state’s 99 counties and within that service area it’s estimated 175,000 Iowans are food insecure – meaning they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.