Thousands of eggs will be donated each month to support Iowans in need, thanks to a new donation program announced Dec. 12 at the Iowa State Capitol.

Iowa egg producers have committed to regular, monthly support of Iowa's food banks in order to help reduce hunger in the state.

The first donations of the Cracking Hunger program will arrive at food banks in January. Local food pantries will be able to access these fresh, high quality eggs from their networked food bank, ultimately providing them to families in need. While eggs are an excellent, nutritious staple food, they are not commonly donated to food banks, especially not in the high numbers that Cracking Hunger will bring.

"Eggs are one of the best tools in our work to end hunger," said Michelle Book, president and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa. "Because of their high nutritional value and versatility, eggs can become the backbone of breakfast, lunch, or dinner for a family in need. We are thrilled by the opportunity to share these excellent, Iowa-produced eggs with our neighbors in need."

The Iowa Egg Council has spearheaded the donation program, and is currently recruiting additional egg producers to join Cracking Hunger.

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"While the egg farmers have long supported efforts with food banks and local food pantries, this is the first time that we hope to meet the year-long demand in providing eggs to Iowa's food insecure," said Kevin Stiles, executive director of the Iowa Egg Council. "We are excited to forge this new partnership that will bring high quality protein to Iowa's families in need."

The Iowa Food Bank Association is coordinating logistics to ensure equitable distribution throughout Iowa's 99 counties. Five food banks will receive the donations: Food Bank of Iowa (Des Moines), Northeast Iowa Food Bank (Waterloo), HACAP Food Reservoir (Hiawatha), River Bend Foodbank (Davenport), and Food Bank for the Heartland (based in Omaha but serving parts of western Iowa).

"On behalf of the Iowa Food Bank Association and the seven Feeding America affiliate food banks in Iowa, I would like to express gratitude and appreciation to the Iowa Egg Producers for this substantial consistent donation of eggs," said Linda Gorkow, executive director of the Iowa Food Bank Association. "The generously donated eggs will provide a key source of protein to feed the hungry in Iowa. Fresh eggs are a food staple that is not consistently received at food banks. Eggs are especially beneficial for food banks to provide to the hungry because eggs are easy to prepare and are a food staple that provides nourishment to all children, adults and seniors who live with food insecurity in Iowa."

State leaders joined the Iowa Egg Council and Iowa Food Bank Association to announce the donations this afternoon. Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Julie Kenney represented the state and delivered remarks.