Organizers of the annual World Food Prize ceremony and 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 a 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 October 16.
An entire day of events is planned. "The Iowa Hunger Summit will celebrate Iowa's many efforts and activities to counteract hunger; enhance public attention to both the cause of and solution to hunger; and encourage increased action and partnership among Iowans to continue fighting hunger," says Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.
How Iowa helps fight world hunger
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.
"I urge Iowans to let the Hunger Summit organizers know what our communities are doing to ensure adequate food and nutrition for those who often go without," said Governor Ray. "Iowa's legacy of national and international humanitarianism is one of which we should be proud."
October 16 is World Food Day
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 United Nations 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, in a ceremony attended by President George Bush, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Harry Reid.
"The World Food Prize honors Dr. Borlaug's lifesaving accomplishments and seeks to 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," says 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 world hunger - Iowa too
* Studies indicate that approximately half (49.2%) of all American children will have received food stamps or food assistance by the time they reach 20. In addition, 51% of adults will participate in a national food assistance program at some time during their working life (between the ages of 20 and 65).
* Around 421,350 Iowans experience "low food security" – the occasional or recurrent lack of adequate safe, nutritious 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% in 1996-1998 to 10.9% in 2003-2005. Also, 46% of Iowa single-mother households are food insecure; 40.6% of all Iowa households with children are food insecure; and 14.9% of elderly households are food insecure.
(From the 2007 Hunger in Iowa report by Susan Roberts and Erin Feld, in conjunction with the Drake University Agricultural Law Center)
* There are 854 million people in the world today who are malnourished – more than the combined population of the United States, Canada and the European Union. Around 153 million of these are children under the age of five.
* Hunger and poverty claim 25,000 lives every day; 16,000 of these are the deaths of children. The number of chronically hungry people worldwide is growing by an average of four million per year at current trends.
(From the UN Food & Agriculture Organization's State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2006/2007)