Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation expands hunger relief program

Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation expands hunger relief program

Posted Aug. 14, 2014

Beginning in September, even more families struggling with food insecurity will find some relief with an expanded Ham Sandwiches for Kids™ program, made possible by the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation and Iowa Select Farms.

The program will provide $5 coupons, four times a year, for sliced or shaved ham to an additional 1,500 central Iowa families who have children participating in the Food Bank of Iowa’s BackPack Program™. The BackPack Program currently serves 4,500 children each week at 113 sites in 26 Iowa counties.

The total value of these coupons is $90,000. When combined to the $76,000 in coupons that will be distributed to families in Northeast Iowa for the first time this fall, the total value of the program is $166,000. The Ham Sandwiches for Kids program is one of the many ways the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation supports hunger relief efforts in our state. Other programs include donating pork loins to rural pantries and public pork loin giveaways leading up to the holidays. In 2014 alone, the Foundation will donate more than $360,000 to help relieve hunger in Iowa.

The BackPack Program™ provides child-friendly, easy-to-prepare nonperishable food items on weekends and during school breaks when students do not have access to the federal free and reduced price meal program.

“I appreciate the continued support and generosity of the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation,” says Carey Miller, executive director of the Food Bank of Iowa. “When there is a child in need, there is a family in need. This partnership provides children and their families with a nutrient-rich protein not always found in their homes.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines, children need up to six ounces of lean protein daily, depending on age and gender. Ham is included in MyPlate as a nutrient-dense, lean protein that promotes growth and development in today’s youth.

“We are passionate about providing hunger relief, especially for children,” said Jeff Hansen, CEO of Iowa Select Farms and co-founder of the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation. “We started our Ham Sandwiches for Kids™ program in 2012 and the number of children impacted has grown significantly each year. Since hunger relief is one of the major focuses of our Foundation, we hope to eventually cover the entire state with this program in order to reduce childhood hunger no matter where you live in Iowa.” Hansen added.

The program was promoted by Gov. Terry Branstad at the 2014 Iowa State Fair and coincides with Hunger Action Month. Beginning Sept. 1, the Food Bank of Iowa and other food banks in the Feeding America network will kick off Hunger Action Month by holding a variety of events, sharing ideas and inspiring people to take action to help the millions of people who are food insecure in the United States.