I’ve written before on the Farm Fresh blog about the tour I took last fall of the Hawkeye Harvest Food Pantry in Mason City.

It was an eye-opening experience, in so many ways. But what struck me the most was seeing the nearly empty coolers in the pantry’s warehouse.

Local food pantries can’t afford to keep their shelves stocked with the nutritious basics that food-insecure Iowans request the most – fresh meat, eggs and milk.

It’s those high-protein foods that can help keep the hunger pains away while the kids are learning in class and the parents are trying to earn a paycheck.

During June Dairy Month, the nation’s dairy farmers are organizing the Great American Milk Drive to encourage Iowans to donate as little as $5 to deliver a gallon of milk to a local family served by the Food Bank of Iowa.

The Food Bank of Iowa is also one of 10 chosen food banks nationwide that is competing in the Great American Milk Drive Challenge to provide more milk to children, families and seniors in Iowa. The winner of the month-long challenge will be awarded $10,000 towards milk purchases.

You can help the Food Bank of Iowa win the challenge by following the Food Bank of Iowa on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram.

Post on your social media channels, tag the Food Bank of Iowa (@FOODBANKIOWA) and add the #MilkDrive hashtag in order for the Food Bank of Iowa to share and retweet your post. Points accumulate for each post, share and retweet from the Food Bank of Iowa. The food bank with the most points receives the grand prize of $10,000 towards milk purchases.

And on June 16, your donation can make an even larger impact during a one-day social media milk drive. All donations online at www.milklife.com/give will be matched on this day, up to $10,000 in donations. Plus, all social media posts on this day will be double the points.

For more information on the Food Bank of Iowa and the Great American Milk Drive Challenge, visit www.foodbankiowa.org.

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is Iowa Farm Bureau's senior features writer.