An Ames minister will receive the 2013 Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award for his 30-year career fighting hunger in Iowa and around the world.
In a ceremony next month, officials with the World Food Prize will honor Rev. Russ Melby who organized Church World Service Hunger Walks in Iowa communities to benefit Iowa food banks, as well as hunger relief abroad.
Rev. Melby came to Iowa in 1984 and hoped to organize food walks in all 99 counties within five years.
“That's how long I expected to stay,” Melby quipped. “We didn't reach that goal but we did have hunger walks in 82 counties over those 30 years.”
The Iowa hunger walks raised 12 million dollars. The Iowa SHARES Award is named for former governor Robert Ray who led a 1979 effort to send food and medicine to refugees from war-torn Cambodia.
SHARES stands for “Iowa Sends Help to Aid Refugees and End Starvation."
Rev. Melby was recognized by World Food Prize President Ambassador Kenneth Quinn at a news conference at World Food Prize headquarters in Des Moines.
"Thank you Ambassador Quinn for this great honor,” Melby said. “When I was called and told I was speechless but I knew I had to say something today. I'm glad to be here and thank you all,” he said.
A quarter of all funds raised through the Iowa Hunger Walks goes to local food pantries. The rest provides emergency aid globally.
The SHARES award was announced this week in honor of Governor Ray’s 87th birthday. Melby will be honored at the Iowa Hunger Summit on October 13th.