2017 alumna speaks at RLC food insecurity forum


Photo by Zoe Seiler

by Belle Ward, Features Editor

Simpson College’s Religious Life Community focused on food insecurity for the second day of this year’s Justice Week, holding a discussion on the topic Tuesday night.

Kay Wolfkill, a 2017 Simpson alumna and receptionist at Food Bank of Iowa, came to Dirlam Lounge Tuesday to discuss food insecurity in Iowa. Approximately 20 people attended the event.

Food Bank of Iowa is affiliated with Feeding America as one of their 200 chapters.

Wolfkill began by asking common misconceptions about hunger and anxiety around food, informing attendants that food insecurity exists more in rural areas than it does in cities.

Most of the families helped by the Food Bank of Iowa are not homeless but have at least one working adult, which also works against biases about individuals who struggle with access to food.

“Our mission is to provide food for our children, families, and seniors to lead full and active lives, strengthening the communities they serve,” Wolfkill said.

Food Bank of Iowa oversees programs such as mobile pantries, food rescue and working with farmers to provide the community with necessary items.

“One in nine adults faces hunger in the state of Iowa, and one in six children,” Wolfkill said.

According to the Food Bank of Iowa, approximately 385,000 Iowans are food insecure. Wolfkill also explained the difference between a food pantry and a food bank.

“Food banks are the warehouses for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community,” Wolfkill said. “Food pantries are the little ones that directly serve the community.”

Simpson has a food co-op program on campus, which is a food pantry, not a food bank. Wolfkill said Helping Hands is an example of a food pantry in Indianola.

“I learned that even though we are working really hard to combat this issue and there are tons of organizations that help those with food insecurity, we still have a long way to go,” first-year Laura Nielsen said. “There are still so many people who struggle with knowing where their next meal will come from.”

Nielsen believes the events RLC creates for Justice Week leave an impact.

“I think that the events RLC is having this week are great, and we should all pay attention to the awareness they’re trying to create for these issues,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen, who works in Smith Chapel, found the facts about food insecurity in Iowa to be surprising.

“I was surprised because one would think that it would be a less pervasive number. But one in six is quite a lot of children,” she said.  

First-year Riley Dykstra found the event to be educational.

“It’s hard to tell who the food insecure people around us because we just don’t know,” Dykstra said.

He said it is important for students to learn about these issues because they happen around us more often than we realize.

RLC is currently has a box Dirlam Lounge for non-perishable items. The items of greatest need are protein such as peanut butter, canned meat and fish, canned fruits, vegetables and sauce in addition to personal care items.

For more information about how to help or volunteer, go online to: www.foodbankiowa.org