Dubuque teens "Feed the Need" to help kids living in poverty - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque teens "Feed the Need" to help kids living in poverty

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Hunger and poverty are ongoing problems that plague thousands of young people throughout eastern Iowa. For many folks who don't see those issues a daily basis, however, the problems can go unnoticed.

According to Dubuque's Promise: 2011 Youth Indicator Report, 13 percent of Dubuque County kids under the age of 17 live in poverty. Friday afternoon, a group of area teens worked to raise several thousand dollars and try to help lower that statistic.

The Roshek Building lobby in downtown Dubuque is no soup kitchen or bread line, but Friday afternoon, more than 100 people lined up to get lunch. The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque's YAPPERS, or Youth Area Philanthropists, are local high school juniors and seniors. The group held its seventh annual Feed the Need luncheon and silent auction Friday to help raise money for Dubuque youth in poverty.

"About 15 percent of all youth in the city, they really don't get three square meals a day," YAPPERS coordinator Willie Sladen said, "so what we try to do is I try to make my YAPPERS understand that these are kids that are just like you, same age, same demographics, but they don't have some of the resources and some of the things that you have."

Taylor Manders is a YAPPER and senior and Wahlert Catholic High School.

"It's been a really eye-opening experience," she said. "I joined YAPPERS last year, and through that I've really gotten to see areas of Dubuque that I've never really seen before."

Although all places have their problems, Sladen said, Dubuque can more easily tackle its poverty than a bigger city like Chicago or Milwaukee can.

"In Dubuque, which is having, I'm going to say, a mediocre low-level poverty compared to some other cities, we're so close-knit in Dubuque, we can actually step up and change it ourselves by actually stepping out and getting active," he said.

Sladen encourages the YAPPERS - and everybody - to get involved bettering their communities.

"If you really want to seek change in your community, don't just wait or don't try to pass it by, just try to get out there and look for it and find it, and Dubuque is so small, it's right there in front of your face," he said.

The YAPPERS raised more than $2,200 Friday between lunch customers and the silent auction. They'll take that money and give grants to local non-profit organizations that help area young people facing poverty and hunger.

The most recent numbers from the US Department of Agriculture show 14.9 percent of households in the US were food insecure at some point in 2011. That means they lacked the money or resources to provide proper nutrition.

For more information on YAPPERS, click HERE.

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