OTTUMWA — Worse than being unaware of the Southeast Iowa Food Bank existence are those residents oblivious to neighbors going hungry around them.
The food bank executive director, Neil Abbott, said there are people going hungry — many of them children — in Wapello and surrounding counties. And while the agency is participating in an awareness month for food banks, he said he and his board always remember where their priorities are.
"You've got to feed the kids," he said Tuesday.
He's happy with the "Scan for September" project because it helps feed the hungry and raise awareness of the Southeast Iowa Food Bank at the same time.
"If [donors] take a [donation] card, they can donate $1 or $10 at the checkout," said Adie Morrow, the food bank's Americorps volunteer.
Morrow, who is in charge of the Scan for September initiative, said cards with bar codes for scanning are available at the three Hy-Vee stores in Ottumwa. For those who just want to drop off spare change, there are containers at Hy-Vee and at Ottumwa Casey's stores, she said.
She wants people, especially kids, to see how "small change" can add up. Drop off a pound of pennies — roughly 163 of them depending on year — and that $1.63 allows the food bank to "buy over 10 pounds of food to feed the hungry."
That's because the director is able to purchase food in bulk through his food bank organization. He spends only about 14 cents a pound. Abbott can get an awful lot of food when people donate money, he said. The food purchased by the Southeast Iowa Food Bank is then distributed to "food pantries" throughout the region. The "bank" doesn't serve individuals; it's the warehouse for the pantries.
Morrow gets how it works. When she was training for Americorps, she said, she noticed she was one of the older volunteers.