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Jo Ann Jenkins Iowa Hunger Summit Prepared Remarks

Prepared Remarks

Coinciding with the United Nations World Food Day, the Iowa Hunger Summit is an annual event that gathers leaders from across Iowa representing community organizations, business and industry, state and local government, social agencies, churches and religious communities, schools and universities, and other individuals and groups that lead or participate in projects to confront hunger.  The World Food Prize Foundation established the Iowa Hunger Summit as a means to celebrate Iowa’s great successes in fighting hunger and poverty and to unite in further action against both.


Read Ms. Jenkins prepared remarks below.

We kicked off our outreach in Iowa this fall and already AARP and the Iowa Food Bank Association volunteer teams are in the process of contacting almost 13,000 Iowans over age 60 by mail, e mail, and phone to invite them to learn more about the food assistance programs available to them. 

Through our outreach, we have seen how the economic downturn has made so many people vulnerable to hunger.  We have also seen how people who have been helped by food assistance programs want to make sure that others who are in similar circumstances are also able to get help.

Two of our volunteers in this outreach effort, both in their early sixties, had been laid off from their jobs and both signed up for food assistance.  Now, even as they transition through tough times themselves, they are helping other Iowans.  It is this spirit and commitment that will help us turn the tide against hunger.

In conclusion, let me say that we at AARP Foundation are proud of our work to raise awareness and funds, to back research, build alliances, stimulate innovation, share best practices, and seek long-term solutions.  At the same time, we realize that the charitable response alone cannot come close to meeting the rising need. 

Government has a critical responsibility on this issue.  At this time when the problem of senior hunger has widened, how can government narrow its response? 

We—all of us—public, private, and non-profit—ought to be reinforcing our commitment to combat older adult hunger, not retreating from it. 

Three weeks before the election, we hear plenty about what divides Americans.  But in this political season, it’s worth remembering what brings us together.  We’re only going to get so far by pointing fingers at each other.  We need to link arms to solve problems.

Across religious lines, across generational lines, across partisan political lines, we are united in caring about and responding to our fellow citizens at daily risk of hunger.  The idea—the reality—of sitting at a kitchen table and literally not knowing where the next meal is coming from is something we would find unimaginable in our own home. It should be unacceptable in any home. 

A young girl named Anne Frank once wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Here in Iowa, whether it’s reaching out to a neighbor at home or to someone halfway around the globe, you’re not waiting.  You’re getting food to the hungry and making a lasting difference in people’s lives.  I’m proud to stand with you and I thank you again for inviting me today.


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Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP CEO

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