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Drake receives MLK Day of Service grant to raise awareness of food insecurity

November 16, 2016

UPDATE 1/9/2017: This article has been updated from its original version to include the time and location of the Jan. 26 community event.

Drake University will raise awareness of food insecurity in Des Moines during a free community event in honor of Martin Luther King Day 2017.

Drake was one of six Iowa colleges and universities to receive a MLK Day of Service Community Partnership Project grant from Iowa Campus Compact (IACC) this year. The grants—in Drake’s case, more than $1,600—provide funding for service projects that work toward alleviating hunger and supporting veterans.

Drake’s event, organized by students in Drake’s Sprout Garden and Next Course: Food Recovery Project, will provide a free meal for about 50 people. Each attendee will receive potting containers, soil, and a variety of seed packets and fresh plants that they can take home to start an in-kitchen garden. The event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at First Christian Church, 2500 University Ave. All attendees are asked to RSVP online.

Attendees will be asked to bring non-perishable food donations, and student volunteers will provide education throughout the meal on food insecurity in the Drake Neighborhood. Much of the neighborhood lies in a food desert—a USDA classification for an urban area where it is difficult to buy affordable or high-quality fresh food.

"By providing this event we are hoping to bridge this gap by providing both a meal where Drake students and residents can come together, but also by providing an opportunity to create small take home garden containers that can continue to provide fresh food for some time to come,” said Megan Lindmark, a senior environmental science major from Stilwell, Kan. and coordinator of the Sprout Garden.

The event fits into broader awareness initiatives of the Sprout Garden—which serves as an educational resource and a source of fresh produce for the surrounding community—and of Next Course, which rescues thousands of pounds of leftover food from Drake’s Sodexo dining halls and provides it to people in need.

The purpose of the MLK Day Community Partnership Project is to mobilize college students, community members and community organizations to observe MLK Day not as “day off,” but as a “day on”. More than 60 colleges and universities received grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. Visit the MLK Day Grant web site for a full list of recipients and more information on the program.

IACC was awarded a federal grant to manage the MLK Day Community Partnership Project in 2015. Last year, the project recruited 1,825 volunteers in Iowa. 1,314 veterans were served and 40,039 pounds of food were distributed to Iowans in need.

The MLK Day of Service Community Partnership Project is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service and supported by four other State Campus Compact partners: Campus Compact of the Mountain West, New York Campus Compact, North Carolina Campus Compact, and Wisconsin Campus Compact.