Dear Friends of United Way,
 
Hunger is an ongoing challenge faced by too many individuals and families in our community. At United Way of Story County, we are committed to addressing this issue through collaborative efforts and strategic initiatives aimed at ensuring access to nutritious food for all.

Recent data highlights the pressing need within our county. According to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, Story County had an estimated food insecurity rate of 9% in 2022. Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap tool indicated that 7.3% of our population, or 7,140 Story County residents, were food insecure in 2021, though this number was lower than previous years due to pandemic assistance programs. Historically, Story County has had one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the state, reaching as high as 14.9%.

The impact of hunger extends far beyond these statistics. More than one in four children in Story County are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches at school, a stark reminder of the daily challenges faced by families. Additionally, nearly one-third of Iowa State University students experience food insecurity, prompting the establishment of three on-campus food pantries to help support students’ basic needs.

Despite these figures, our community remains resilient and committed to addressing hunger. Story County is home to more than 20 food pantries, serving thousands of individuals monthly. In the last six months alone, an average of 6,230 individual visits were recorded at local pantries each month, underscoring the vital role these resources play in our community.

As part of our LIVE UNITED Food Drive last month, I witnessed firsthand the incredible outpouring of support from so many of you who gave food item and monetary donations, volunteered your time, and helped deliver over 20,000 pounds of food to our local pantries. The passion and connection you – our community leaders, donors, volunteers, and neighbors – have continued to exhibit in fighting hunger has been one of the most impactful parts of my first months at United Way.

As we continue our collective work to ensure every member of our community is food secure, our efforts become even more crucial. United Way of Story County remains committed to supporting our local food pantries, school-based initiatives, and collaborative partnerships that aim to alleviate hunger and promote food security for all.

Together, we are creating a future where no one in our community goes hungry. Your continued generosity is invaluable in this effort, and we remain grateful for your support.
Health
709 individuals were provided crisis intervention and supportive services.*

*FY23
Education
6,986 underserved learners were reached with programming from our partner agencies.*
Financial Stability
255 families were able to access child care with the use of sliding fee scales funded by UWSC.*
YOUR DOLLARS AT WORK
Camp Fire - Camp Canwita
“Familiar, Comfortable, Welcoming and Fun”

These are the words that Bailey used to describe how she feels when she attends summer camp at Camp Canwita in Ames - run by Camp Fire Heart of Iowa. The Summer of 2023 wrapped up Bailey’s last summer attending Canwita. Bailey started attending summer camp as a school-aged youth and has come back every summer for the past seven years. Bailey is now 13 years old and attends the Canwita Middle School program. 

Camp Fire – Camp Canwita, which is funded in part with United Way of Story County ASSET funding, provides youth like Bailey safe, quality, and consistent childcare that caregivers can rely on year after year. For over 100 years, Camp Fire has had the unique ability to offer stable, outdoor-oriented, enrichment-filled, quality childcare for the Ames area and surrounding community. 

Reflecting on her time as a Canwita camper, Bailey shared that she values independence and the ability to make decisions for herself. A core value of Camp Fire is providing young people with the opportunity to discover who they are in a safe and affirming environment. Bailey communicated feeling a sense of freedom and choice. Bailey has benefitted from multiple opportunities over the years to discover who she is while growing and thriving in Camp Fire programs (which included finding her love for Gaga Ball, her favorite camp activity!). Bailey even hopes to move into a teen leadership role at Camp Canwita! 

With the incredible support of partners such as the United Way of Story County, Camp Fire will continue to provide the type of programming that champions youth like Bailey to become the people they are meant to be. 
Why It Matters

Bailey was 1 of 326 children in Story County who participated in summer enrichment programs at Camp Fire last year. 92.3% of those youth reported feeling a sense of belonging. 85.9% reported improved or maintained positive relationship skills. 97.5% reported learning a new skill.

Historically, United Way of Story County has intentionally supported summer enrichment programs, such as Camp Fire's Camp Canwita, because they foster learning for children during the summer months. They also provide caregivers with necessary summer supervision and peer engagement. In a recent caregiver survey, 87% of caregivers reported an improved quality of life due to childcare services, as well as being able to remain in school or at their jobs due to camp/childcare supports.

*Data from FY22-23
Welcome, Victoria!
As the newest member of the team, allow me to say a quick hello! My name is Victoria Conoan, and I am a senior at Iowa State University in the Communication Studies Program. I desired to be the United Way of Story County’s Communication Intern for many reasons, namely, to be of service to my community. I find the breadth and depth of my teammates’ knowledge and expertise both affirming and inspiring. I made the right choice for my summer internship. 

We all belong to our community. Sometimes, my community feels smaller – my brother, nieces, and parents. Sometimes, my community feels larger, such as when the university is in session. I am passionate about serving my community. It can mean some small, everyday gesture, such as holding the door open for someone at the gas station. In my professional capacity, it can mean assisting with community fundraising events, such as Golf Fore Kids in August. Large or small, we all contribute to our community. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Story County this summer. Thank you!
Women United Picnic
With Associate Director of Community Impact, Sarah Mansell, now on board, we are excited to resume Women United programming with our popular Participant Picnic later this month! This will be a chance for participants and mentors to gather with their families, mingle with each other, and meet new United Way of Story County staff Sarah and UWSC President and CEO, Ashley Thompson. More than 560 women have attended our Money Management series, held in conjunction with ISU Extension, at locations across Story County. We are looking forward to spending time together and celebrating our participants' financial successes. This event is open to all past and present Women United mentors and program participants! Email smansell@uwstory.org for more info.
Submit A Day of Caring Project
United Way's annual day of giving back and getting things done (aka Day of Caring!) is happening on September 13! Every year, hundreds of volunteers go to work throughout Story County repairing, organizing, painting, sprucing, you name it! All in the name of community. If your organization would like to be involved, you can submit a project with the link below. If you're interested in volunteering for a project, sign up to get notified when the projects go live here.
June - August - Free Summer Meal Sites open across the county! Visit www.uwstory.org/story-county-hunger-guide for info.

June 20 - Hunger Collaboration - UWSC office - 3:00pm

June 25 - Women United Picnic - email smansell@uwstory.org

July 9 - Women United Money Management series begins at Ames Public Library, Tuesdays from 12:30-2:30pm

SAVE THE DATE! Aug 9 - Golf Fore Kids - Ames Golf & Country Club