Thousands of Iowans gathered earlier this month in Ames for a "Together We CAN!" Cookout to learn more about farming, visit with farmers and help the people who don't have enough to eat.
The event, hosted by the Iowa Food & Family Project in partnership with the Iowa Sports Foundation, attracted nearly 2,000 people and was held in conjunction with Finals Fest and the opening ceremonies of the Summer Iowa Games. More than 1,700 people enjoyed a pork and beef burger supper, donated $1,950 to the Iowa Food Bank Association (IFBA), visited with farmers and engaged in a variety of activities showcasing the commitment of farm families to providing healthy and wholesome food for everyone.
Jordan Vernoy, IFBA executive director, estimates that for every $1 donated, food banks in Iowa can distribute up to $15 worth of food to hungry Iowans.
"It's inspiring when Iowans come together and rally around the table in support of farming and people who are food insecure," he says. "The resources generated by the cookout will make a tremendous and positive impact in the lives of those who struggle with hunger."
About 13% of Iowa population is food insecure or struggles with hunger
An analysis by Feeding America estimates that 380,000 Iowans, or nearly 13% of the state's population, are food insecure or struggle against hunger. Food insecure Iowans miss the equivalent of 167 meals each year or nearly 56 days with no breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Nearly 600 "Together We CAN!" Cookout attendees also completed registration cards for the chance to win a variety of prizes. The cards encouraged people of all ages to ask farmers questions and to share their thoughts about farming.
When asked what comes to mind when one thinks of an Iowa farmer, their responses included "corn and soybeans," "loyalty," "hogs, pigs and turkeys," "determination," "stewardship" "responsible" and "hard working."
The questions cookout attendees posed to farmers were both insightful and entertaining. Dawn from Ames asked, "What do you do in years where crop yields don't meet your expectations?" while Holly from Council Bluffs inquired, "What made you want to be a farmer?" Rebekah from Ames wanted to know "Why doesn't the detasseling machine get all of the tassels?"
Iowans join together to celebrate farming, help people in need of food
When encouraged to tell a farmer one thing, Patty from Boone wrote, "Keep up the good job feeding the nation," while Dawn from Ames said, "Your hard work is admirable and appreciated!"
"Together We CAN!" Cookout sponsors include the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Midwest Dairy Association, US Bank, United Soybean Board and Iowa Food Bank Association.
The Iowa Food & Family Project is a purpose-driven initiative dedicated to nurturing positive and enduring relationships between farmers and consumers through personal engagement and advocacy. It serves as presenting sponsor of the Iowa Games and involves more than 20 farm, retail and food relief organizations celebrating the continuous improvement of Iowa's farmers and their commitment to providing healthy food for everyone. It's funded in part by the Iowa Soybean checkoff. For information, log on to www.iowafoodandfamily.com or "follow" the Iowa Food & Family Project at www.facebook.com/foodnfamilies.