The World Food Prize Foundation

December 2014

Successful “Food for Thought” Discussion Series Provides Lessons for Organizing Community Conversations

This fall, the Food Bank of Iowa held a “Food for Thought” discussion series in five communities in North-Central Iowa. The Food for Thought discussions brought together over 100 people in Storm Lake, Spencer, Sheldon, Estherville, and Humboldt. Participants shared and learned about food insecurity, and discussed types of food assistance programs and ways the Food Bank of Iowa can help. The discussions led to new partnerships to combat hunger in North-Central Iowa, including with:  4 community food pantries, 9 new BackPack Program partners, 4 School Pantry partners, and a new Mobile Food Pantry location.
Christina Zink, Communications Manager at the Food Bank of Iowa, offers the following reflections on how they successfully organized community discussions in North-Central Iowa:


When planning the series, we took a hard look at:

  • Counties in our service area that have relatively high food insecurity rates
  • Counties in our service area where we don’t have many partner agencies
  • Distance, we wanted as many individuals as possible to attend so we chose towns that are easily accessible
  • We also looked at availability of space to hold the meetings

In order to have a variety of individuals and groups represented, Food for Thought was open to the public. We did targeted invites as well to:

  • County and local government
  • Businesses and chambers
  • Churches, community centers, senior centers
  • Schools
  • Media
  • Non-partner organizations that we wanted to learn more from and start up conversations
  • Our current partner agencies that attended were able to talk about our partnership and ways in which the Food Bank of Iowa can help

We were so pleased, not only with turnout, but the conversation between attendees and the Food Bank of Iowa. There are three takeaways from this event:

Community members are working very hard to solve food insecurity in their local communities. While we looked at locations with little food bank partner agencies, there are many existing food assistance programs doing great work. Local community partners from media outlets to churches to businesses are working together to provide volunteer, financial and awareness support. The Food Bank of Iowa sees its role as providing support to their current initiatives and helping to expand their services.

There is a need. Despite the incredible efforts going on in the community, there remains a significant gap in serving food insecure individuals. As we continue to converse and partner, there are many counties that have emergency food providers that require families to drive over 30 miles to receive help.

There are areas that have a high child hunger need and no program to help provide food assistance over the weekend. How can we get more partner agencies in these areas?

Part of the Food Bank of Iowa’s mission is to educate and partner, we hope as we continue sharing and learning about the need, communities and leaders will come together to help solve hunger issues.

Our third takeaway is relationships. It is through relationships that we build trust and understanding. Being able to have face-to-face interaction and foster personal relationships with the communities in our service area can really drive a shared vision, open communication and accountability. 

For more information on Food for Thought: Food Insecurity in Your Community, please contact Tyler Dillon, Food Bank of Iowa AmeriCorps VISTA at515-729-8624 or

Invitation: Celebrate the Season at the World Food Prize Holiday Open House

Come to the historic World Food Prize Hall of Laureates on December 13 or 20 and celebrate the holidays and another year of progress against hunger. Guests will experience the majestic sound of the Grace Church Ensemble singing holiday music, view the beautiful holiday decor, enjoy hot apple cider and cookies, and explore the World Food Prize's collections of artwork and exhibits. 

Come and explore the National Geographic "Future of Food" exhibit and the "40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World" international photography exhibit by Howard G. Buffett. In addition, visitors of all ages will enjoy the interactive exhibits on food and agriculture in the garden level.  Free and open to the public.

More information online.

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