A Quad City teenager is tackling a global problem by starting locally.
Gretchen Mohr, 18, a senior at North Scott High School, hosted the first Dr. Borlaug Youth Hunger Summit at St. Ambrose University on Monday.
The summit is named in honor of the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, who used his Iowa roots to fight hunger and famine for decades.
Inside the food pantry at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Davenport, demand is up nearly 30% this year. Supplies reflect the times. Some shelves are bare, and the freezer needs restocking.
“Hunger really does hit home,” said Mohr.
That’s why more than 200 high school students attended the summit. Mohr is on a mission. She’s stepping into action to inspire other students to reach out and inspire community change.
“High school students are the next generation,” she said. “If we want to see an end to world hunger in our lifetime, it’s going to be the kids that are going to do it.”
At the Fish Food Pantry in Galesburg, demand for emergency supplies doubled in recent years. But the pantry had to cut back on what it could distribute.
“I really just want to go out and try to get the word out to as many people as I can,” said Kayla Miller, a junior at United Township High School. “They can help, too.”
The numbers are startling and scary. One in five American kids lives below the poverty line.
“Get the message out there that people don’t have enough to eat,” added Kelsey Gaylord, a junior at Davenport West High School.
While this summit helps teenagers to learn about hunger, it’s also a call to action. They’ll be able to do something about it.
“I think to make it personal, it’s important for them to see that firsthand, what’s happening,” said Rep. Dave Loebsack, (D) Iowa. “Iowa does have this problem. There’s no doubt about it.”
The summit’s takeaway is really a start rather than a finish.
“I hope that today the seed gets planted in all of them to help fight hunger,” Mohr concluded.
It’s a fight that reaches from local food pantries to fields all over the world.