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Oxfam: Hunger the Focus for International Women’s Day in IA

March 4, 2011

AMES, Iowa - An observance next week is designed to draw attention to the plight of the world's hungry, but Iowans got an early start Thursday night.

The Hunger Banquet at Iowa State University was held in advance of next Tuesday's International Women's Day. Oxfam America, an organizer of the day, says the observance spotlights the role women play in growing and gathering food for their families.

Jim Ennis, executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference in Des Moines, which also supported the banquet, says hunger is a major issue for women who are most responsible for food production in many developing countries.

"Women comprise the majority of the world's food producers, and we don't see that necessarily in the United States."

Ennis says there's concern that programs designed to help women increase production and battle hunger in the developing world will be cut as Congress looks for ways to trim the budget. The event in Ames, and others scheduled across the country, are aimed at helping struggling women farmers move from daily survival to providing a better long-term life for themselves and their families.

The Hunger Banquet was a great way to expose Iowans to the challenges that struggling farmers face across the globe, Ennis says.

"A Hunger Banquet, where people can experience the opportunity to see what folks are experiencing in other countries, is a unique one."

With increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather hitting harvests, Oxfam says, women face an even steeper uphill struggle to feed their families these days.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - IA