Hunger and Iowa State Extension
By Rev. Paul Ostrem
Partnering with community resources can play an important role in addressing the needs of
hungry people in communities in this synod. There are Extension Specialists located in all parts
of this synod who would welcome conversations about possible partnerships for various projects
or efforts in a given community. Grace Lutheran Church in Des Moines and Windsor Heights
Lutheran Church have both been involved with Extension Specialists in ways that are listed here.
1. Collection drives for slow cookers and other needed kitchen tools. Extension specialists can
hold free one-time nutrition education classes for food pantry customers, using the appliances as
incentives and door prizes. Or, in counties that offer a “Buy. Eat. Live Healthy” course, the
appliance or kitchen tool can be awarded to those parents who graduate from the course and need
the particular tool to cook healthy meals at home.
2. Assistance at nutrition education classes, such as “Viva Las Veggies.” Volunteers can assist
Extension specialists with the many tasks involved in promoting fruit and vegetable consumption
to pantry customers and others with limited incomes: Distributing class fliers, setting up the
classroom, serving people from a salad buffet, and packing “goodie” bags of hand soap, cutting
boards, carrot peelers and healthy recipes. In “Veggie” classes, the volunteers from Grace
Lutheran Church (Des Moines) and Windsor Heights Lutheran Church graciously welcomed
guests, making sure everyone had a cold drink, and thanking folks for coming. It was less like a
class and more like a community meal to honor ones neighbors.
Extension Specialists are flexible and willing to help an anti-hunger group decide how, or even
if, they would like to be involved in the nutrition education effort. Partnering with them utilizes
the knowledge and resources they bring to the table. Yet another way we can live out the vision
to be “An Anti-Hunger Synod.”
Click for a list of Nutrition and Wellness Staff in Southeast Iowa who can help your congregation get started.
Click here for a HSEO Block-Region Map to see the regions they serve.
Be on the lookout in the following weeks for more stories and information about Extension partnerships in our synod.
Pastor Paul Ostrem has served as an assistant to Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod since January 1, 2009, where he coordinates the mobility of rostered leaders and the congregational call process, works with people in candidacy, and works with the Commission for Church in Society dealing in particular with the issues of hunger and poverty toward the goal of manifesting what it means to be an “anti-hunger synod.” Prior to coming to the bishop’s staff, he served parishes in Hanlontown and Preston, and as Senior Pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Muscatine for twenty-one years. He has served on numerous not-for-profit boards including Lutheran Homes in Muscatine, Lutheran Services in Iowa and the Lutheran Services in Iowa Foundation.