Cummins, through volunteerism, ensures Iowans don’t go hungry

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – One of KCRG-TV9’s 9 Who Cares, Al Cummins, has dedicated years to helping those who would otherwise go hungry.

Food insecurity affects more than 90,000 children in Iowa. And the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, known as HACAP, provides 10 million meals a year.

In Cummins’ four years as a volunteer in the HACAP food tank, he’s been just as invaluable as the full-time staff. HACAP communications director Christopher Ackman said Al Cummins can evoke everyone’s mood at the food tank.

“He’s here early and we can come in and if he starts his day with a joke or just something fun that cheers you up for the day,” Ackman said.

Cummins contacted HACAP based on a news report that it was difficult to find consistent volunteers.

“He just came up one day and said, ‘I want to volunteer,’ which is the most Al thing ever,” said Aron Brecht, of the HACAP food tank.

The food tank is filled with food paddles. It takes heavy equipment to move much of the product. It’s the kind of work that doesn’t always attract volunteers, but not everyone is like Al Cummins.

“Specifically we needed a volunteer to help get the orders ready – it was one of our most pressing positions and we had a meeting about it and literally the next day Al walks down the street and said, “I want to help, I saw something on the news that I want to give back,” Ackman said. “And he’s like ‘sign me up'”

160 food pantries in seven counties depend on the HACAP Food Bank in Hiawatha. Filling a need so that families do not have to make decisions that could compromise their health.

“They would have to make an impossible decision, whether it’s to pay my mortgage or my medical bills or my medication or to buy groceries,” Brecht said.

The demand for food has only increased in recent years. And placing orders in the warehouse challenges the mind and body.

“It’s quite physical, a lot of bending and lifting. He [Cummins] gets a workout out of it,” Ackman said.

The hours Cummins spent delivering food for food banks has been recognized by Governor Kim Reynolds and his HACAP peers. But for Cummins, he volunteers for families who depend on pantries, food boxes and communal meals.

“Some people say like in the music industry there’s the Beatles and then there’s everyone else. I’m not going to say it out loud. There’s Al and then he’s fantastic,” Brecht said.

Copyright 2022 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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