Last night, The Crisis Center of Johnson County hosted its first-ever Hunger Banquet at the Sheraton in downtown Iowa City. Over 200 guests were randomly assigned to represent the proportion of various income groups in Johnson County, according to the latest census data. This meant that, while those representing the top earners dined on their steak and lobster, others were assigned hamburgers, lunch meat sandwiches, or macaroni and cheese. Fourteen percent—representing the food insecure population of Johnson County—received no meal at all.
While this representation of hunger in our community was poignant, even those without a meal experienced only an ounce the distress caused to food insecure individuals and families continuously, day after day. In fact, they were incredibly lucky. They were surrounded by others with extra food who were happy to share when they noticed their empty plates.
But as our keynote speaker, Barbie Izquierdo pointed out, those facing food insecurity are often invisible to the rest of society.
Barbie was featured in the award-winning documentary, A Place at the Table, in which she shared what she experienced being food insecure with two young kids. Since then, Barbie has become an advocate in the fight against hunger. Additionally, she works for the City of Philadelphia and just recently finished her Associate’s Degree.
She shared, though she works to change the lives of others, her own situation still has not changed all that much. Still, she and her children sometimes go to bed hungry.
Barbie is far from alone in her constant battle against food insecurity in the United States. The program closed with a short video produced by Shuva Rahim from Accent Photographics featuring a few of our own clients and their personal stories of hunger in their own homes.