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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2017

Jefferson County’s Hunger Dialogue celebrates first year

Aug 10, 2017
PHOTO SUBMITTED Hunger Dialogue members and guests reflect on their accomplishments and set new goals. The group meet from noon to 1 p.m. the fourth Thursday of the month in the Hy-Vee Club Room.

July marked the first-year anniversary of the Jefferson County Hunger Dialogue.

The Hunger Dialogue is a group of community members from all backgrounds, collaborating to strategically address hunger and food insecurity in Jefferson County. The anniversary of the group’s first meeting marks a milestone and furthers its resolve to realize the goal of alleviating hunger in the county.

According to the USDA, food security means at all times having access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. Nearly 50 million people in the United States face food insecurity, with almost 16 million of them children. Many people don’t know that this devastating reality is here in our own backyard. In Jefferson County, 13.4 percent of the population, and 1-in-5 kids are food insecure. The Hunger Dialogue is working to change that.

“We have learned about a variety of topics related to food insecurity and volunteers have developed new programs and resources ... It’s truly a collaborative group,” said Dee Sandquist, registered dietitian and county supervisor who’s been convening the meetings. “We’ve met with people from around the region including the work of local Green Iowa AmeriCorps volunteers; Blaine Voss from New Hope Community Inc. in Oskaloosa; and Stephanie Hawkins, the Fairfield public school food service director.”

More than 50 nonprofit groups, organizations, and individuals have participated in the Hunger Dialogue this year. Pathfinders RC&D facilitated the working groups and several action planning sessions, the Sky Factory and Fairfield Hy-Vee worked with Fairfield schools to start a Seed-to-Plate Youth Summer Garden Club for second- through sixth-graders at Hy-Vee, and the First Lutheran Church hosts the Come to Supper program with participation from volunteers and organizations that serve free hot meals on the second and fourth Tuesdays each month. These activities are made possible by the collaboration of all of the Hunger Dialogue participants, each volunteering their time.

There are many individuals and groups already working to address hunger and poverty in the county including The Lords Cupboard food pantry and Carry on Bags which sends supplemental weekend foods to students in the Fairfield Community School District. The Fairfield Summer Food Program is also serving free lunches this summer for all children 18 and under, and has served over 1,000 meals to area children at three locations since June 8.

The Hunger Dialogue is working to include these resources and others in an up-to-date directory, their work in progress is online at http://www.letsgojeffco.com.

The Hunger Dialogue meets from noon to 1 p.m. the fourth Thursday of the month in the Hy-Vee Club Room for strategic planning and educational guest speakers on a variety of related topics. As an open community group, people from any background are welcome to join in addressing hunger in the county.

For information or to learn how to get involved, contact Anna Bruen, 641-472-6177, anna@pathfindersrcd.org or Dee Sandquist, dsandquist@jeffersoncountyia.com.

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