OTTUMWA — For some, summer is a time of barbecue, picnics and cool treats like ice cream and other frozen delights.
But for too many in southeast Iowa, summer is yet another season of trying to find enough to eat, especially those families who struggle to keep their children fed.
The United Way of Wapello County is dedicating its third annual Day of Action — June 21 — to helping feed those in need through a food drive.
“Part of it has to do with statistics that have come out in the area in regards to food and stability,” said Marie Zoromski, community impact associate for the local United Way.
During the last school year, 52 percent of school-age children in Wapello County were eligible for free or reduced lunch, according to the Iowa Department of Education, and 24 percent of the county’s children — or 1,900 children — are food insecure, according to a Map the Meal Gap study by Feeding America.
“We did know that there was a big problem, but it’s increasing,” Zoromski said. “Food prices are going up and employment is still an issue.”
Those numbers are alarming and as a society, we shouldn’t allow any child to go hungry or undernourished.
The United Way’s food drive is not a quick solution to hunger and poverty is southeast Iowa, but it’s a serious acknowledgement that more must be done to ensure all children have food to eat.
The food drive, hopefully, will help to shine a light on this growing concern in Wapello County and throughout southeast Iowa.
Collected food dropped off on June 21 at the United Way’s office in downtown Ottumwa will go to the Food Bank of Southern Iowa, which in turn will distribute the food throughout the area.
Let’s all do our part to make this summer a season of plenty and not one of hunger for those in need.