Dallas County ISU Extension and Outreach and members of Dallas County 4-H and Clover Kids were on hand at the Dallas County Fairgrounds Saturday for Hands to Larger Service, a food drive benefiting local food pantries in Dallas County.
This was the first year of this event and was organized as a county-wide 4-H and Clover Kids service learning project.
“The idea was, let’s support the food pantries and the Friday Food Backpack programs in our county,” said Lisa Mickelson from Dallas County ISU Extension. “I think we were overwhelmed, honestly. We didn’t know what to expect but it was a great turnout.”
The event, which lasted from 9-10:30 a.m., brought in 1,550 pounds of food and $366 from donations. Mickelson said that Dallas County 4-H was also donating $500, bringing the total amount of donated money to $866.
The food and donations were then divided up to be distributed to local food pantries in Dallas County.
“It’s just based on the percent of people they serve on a monthly basis is how much percent they’ll be getting,” Mickelson said. “So they’ll be pretty much taking those today, or we’ll distribute Monday.”
Throughout the event, people would show up with their food donations, which were weighed and logged so the total could be announced at the end of the event.
In addition to just taking donations of food and money, there were also booths set up for education opportunities. Some of the organizations that were set up included ISU Extension and Outreach, 4-H, Dallas County Public Health, Master Gardeners, the new Waukee Community Closet, World Food Prize and the Food Bank of Iowa.
“I think this is the key right over here is, not just the donations, but getting some of the awareness about food insecurity and who’s there to help,” Mickelson said. “Plus look at some volunteer opportunities.”
There were also volunteers helping to sort and box up the food to go to the local food pantries.
Melissa Stimple from the Waukee Food Pantry and Celia McCollum from the Adel Food Pantry were helping weigh the food as it came in and were able to take some of the boxes back to their food pantries when the event was over.
“It’s a great way to bring the community together and get the kids involved,” Stimple said.
Stimple also said that the education part of the event was very important.
“We’re raising awareness for the hunger in Dallas County,” Stimple said. “I think often people forget that there is a need in rural Iowa for hunger and increasing access to food and having food available for these families. So I think this just brings a really good awareness to the county.”