This has been a very challenging year for Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank. The demand for the emergency food that we provide has been very strong. This past year we provided enough food to make 267,480 meals. That enabled us to help 10,402 families and a total of 22,290 people.

This last fiscal year are clients were 46 percent male and 54 percent female.

Also 39 percent of those we helped were under 17, 32 percent are 18-40, 26 percent are 41-64, and 3 percent are 65 or older.

A total of 637,691 pounds of food, 97,600 pounds of bread and sweets, and 12,088 pounds of non-food items (soap, toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste) were given out to those who visited Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank.

We also distributed 11,481 half-gallons of milk to our families and individuals.

Our emergency food provided enough food to make meals for four days for individuals and families from 60 communities within the 10 counties in North Iowa, with 75.94 percent of those served being from Cerro Gordo County.

All who come to Hawkeye Harvest Food bank must provide proof of residency and proof of income. Clients can come once each month to get their four days of food.

Your tax deductible donation helps us buy the food and non perishables that we give out each day to individuals and families in need. Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank is a 100 percent volunteer organization. A donation of $25 will purchase enough food to make over 40 meals. A $50 donation provides enough food for approximately 80 meals, and $100 will help us purchase enough food for about 160 meals.

There are no paid staff members. Our 137 volunteers gave 11,624 hours of their time so your donation is used strictly for the purchase of food with a small amount used to maintain our facility at 122 S. Adams.

Your financial donations go a long ways with Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank. We are able to purchase the majority of our food items from the Food Bank of Iowa. Those items are purchased for $0.14 a pound, so that really stretches our donations.

Not everything can be purchased from the Food Bank of Iowa, and our local grocery stores really help us out too. They provide us with substantial discounts on those very large orders for any items that are not available from the Food Bank of Iowa. Local and area food processors have also been very generous to us with their year-round donations of meat and eggs.

This year, it is even more critical that those who gave last year do so again, and for anyone who hasn't donated in the past, I encourage you to help us this holiday season.

Numerous individuals, families, schools, churches, clubs, organizations, businesses and industries provide additional support during the year with food collections and donations. In May, we do help Stamp Out Hunger. That's been so crucial for us during the summer months when donations drop rather dramatically. Those too are very important because they provide us with items usually not available from the Food Bank of Iowa.

For those of you who are unable to make a financial donation, you might be able to donate food. Our largest needs right now are cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, chicken noodle soup, stuffing, toilet paper, rice and diced tomatoes.

Another way that you could help Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank is to become one of our volunteers. We really need volunteers to help our clients from 1-4 any afternoon from Monday through Friday. A very short training is required.

Our goal, for this holiday season is $25,000. That's an increase of $5,000 from last year. Please help us realize this season's goal.

Reach Ozzie Ohl with the Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank at ozzie.hawkeyehfbank@gmail.com.

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