An Iowan gains more perspective on the issue of hunger

by: Erin Wilgenbusch, APR, Senior Lecturer and ISU PRSSA Faculty Advisor

Today I joined Sue Brockway in Waterloo at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.  It was a personal experience for me since so many people I know have benefitted from the Northeast Iowa Food Bank recently.  You see, I grew up in Parkersburg, Iowa (about 30 miles west of Waterloo and in the 16-county service area of the Food Bank).  On May 25, nearly half of my hometown was lost to an EF5 tornado. I’ve been back several times since that fateful day and on numerous visits, I’ve seen the Northeast Iowa Food Bank truck making deliveries to the many, many affected citizens in Parkersburg.  Today, speaking with Barb and some of the other Food Bank employees I learned more about their operation and, sadly, the large number of people in need of food.  One program that really struck a chord with me (the mother of three children) was the Backpack Program.  On Fridays, school children are sent home with a non-descript backpack full of food to last them through the weekend.  I can not imagine what it must be like to be a child and to be hungry.  To look forward to going to school, because you get a meal there.  It was surely a personal lesson for me (and my oldest son who was with me) about being grateful for what you have.  The employees, too, struck me.  They clearly are passionate about what they do, from the executive director to the program directors to the man who unloads the trucks of food.  They all value the important role they play in hunger relief in northeast Iowa.  They’re pretty impressive people.  Thanks, Tyson, for your efforts on behalf of all Iowans; and personally, thanks for opening my eyes to the scope of hunger in my own home state.

Here’s an interview Erin did with Barb Prather, executive director of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.