The Iowa State Fair is known for its food. So much food.
But what happens to the food left over when the fair ends?
This year, 12 different food vendors donated their excess produce, meat and other food items — totaling 7,300 pounds — to Food Bank of Iowa, which has partnered with State Fair vendors since 2018 to try to minimize food waste and combat hunger in central Iowa, the organization said.
They also kickstarted an initiative in 2014 offering fairgoers half-priced tickets on the last day if they bring in canned goods.
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This year’s donations from vendors included 40 3-gallon tubs of ice cream from Midwest Dairy, 136 cases of Girl Scouts Thin Mints from the “Minty Moo” parfaits, and 3,150 pounds of pork shank from Campbell’s Concessions, officials with the food bank said.
Midwest Dairy has been donating leftover fair food to Food Bank of Iowa since the initiative started, and the organization hopes to keep the partnership going in the future, spokesperson Alyson Fendrick said.
“Finding resourceful ways to provide more food to those experiencing food insecurity is a core value of Iowa dairy farmers,” she said.
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Donations from fair vendors also included bakery items, frozen meats, condiments and fresh produce such as lemons, limes, oranges, diced tomatoes and onions.
Perishable items or food in service-sized packaging were immediately distributed to partner meal sites, food bank spokesperson Annette Hacker said. The ice cream, for example, was immediately distributed to Central Iowa Shelter & Services, YMCA Supportive Housing and Children & Families of Iowa’s daycare center.
Other items, such as the Thin Mints, will be used for inventory at Food Bank of Iowa’s partner pantries across 55 counties in Iowa.
Hacker said the donations from vendors make a tangible difference in the lives of central Iowans.
“There are 300,000 people in this state who don’t know where their next meal will come from and we have to do everything possible to address that,” she said.
Donations following the 2022 Iowa State Fair came from the following fair vendors:
- Campbell’s Concessions
- Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters
- Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa
- Iowa Pork Producers Association
- Iowa Sheep Industry Association
- Jalapeno Pete’s
- Midwest Dairy Association
- Stockman’s Inn
- TnT Concessions
- Veggie Table
- West Des Moines United Methodist Church
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