Idahoan's Efforts to Tackle Hunger Gain National Spotlight
Kathy Gardner Named Finalist for AARP Foundation's Nationwide Hunger Hero Award, Cited for Innovative Work with Refugees in Idaho
BOISE, Idaho, Aug. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 6 million older Americans face the threat of hunger and are forced to skip meals, or choose between paying for groceries or their prescriptions, with Idaho having one of the highest food hardship rates in the nation. Few people know this better than Kathy Gardner , the Director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, and few are doing as much to stop it – now her work is in the national spotlight.
Gardner's efforts to end hunger in Idaho and her innovative approach to tackling hunger issues in the state haven't just garnered her a nomination for the AARP Foundation's Hunger Hero Award, it's made her one of five finalists out of over one hundred nominees nationwide.
Through The Drive to End Hunger (a national effort to help end senior hunger in America), the contest recognizes extraordinary people (aged 50+) whose efforts to combat hunger inspire and motivate others to action. Gardner's work with refugees in Idaho made her a clear standout, having established the Somali Bantu African Food Project. The project enables the Somali Bantu (refugees from Southeastern Africa) to harvest foods indigenous to their home, and has distributed over 300,000 pounds of food, as well as helping the group raise funds for other projects by selling their harvest at the Capitol City Farmer's Market – efforts led by the community's elders.
"Kathy's work has helped tens of thousands of Idahoans threatened by hunger have access to the basic necessity of a meal," said Jim Wordelman , State Director for AARP in Idaho. "She doesn't do this work for any other reason than to make a difference in people's lives - we're glad her efforts are being recognized."
In addition to national recognition with their profile in AARP The Magazine and an Inspire Award from the publication, the AARP Foundation will also make a $15,000 donation to the winner's charity to help that organization continue working to end senior hunger.
"Idaho is a particularly vulnerable state when it comes to hunger, and we've got a lot of work ahead to continue to tackle this issue," said Kathy Gardner , Director for the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force. "It is an honor to be nominated as a Hunger Hero, the award money that comes with the national recognition would go an especially long way in a rural state like Idaho."
The finalist with the most votes wins. To read more about Gardner's story, and those of the other finalists, and vote, people can visit: www.aarp.org/hungerhero (voting begins today, people can cast one vote per day ending September 24).
Gardner's other efforts in Idaho include launching the Hunger Free Community Initiative in Emmett, involving lawmakers, senior centers, food pantries, farmers and school districts to tackle food insecurity in the area; creating a Senior Farmer's Marker Nutrition Program; and working to remove barriers to Idahoans' participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) across the Gem State.
AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.
SOURCE AARP Idaho
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