Another group looked at food insecurity in the region. Yvonne Baldwin-Greene said they found it was important to highlight the difference between a food bank and a food pantry as well as the cost of food. Sixty pounds of food from the food bank costs only $5, whereas that same amount of food at any grocery store would cost $74.
"That's pretty impactful," she said.
There is also a large problem with feeding the area's food insecure children. There are currently two summer feeding programs in Ottumwa, she said, at the Ottumwa YMCA and Salvation Army. But only 5 percent of Ottumwa's food insecure children utilize those services.
"We need to look at other ways to bring food to our kids," she said.
Applications for the 2013-14 program are available, and those interested can go to www.orlf.org to apply. Tuition for the year is $500 per student.
Russ Sporer, the dean for this year's academy, helped guide the curriculum and moderate the class. He said without good leadership, a community will not prosper or remain viable.
"Obviously for the future our community needs good, effective leaders in all walks of life," Sporer said. "They've learned an enormous amount about our community; they probably have a better understanding than 90 percent of our population."
— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.