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Register reporter Linh Ta talks with little tykes at the Iowa State Fair about the best foods and how the butter cow is made. Rodney White, rodwhite@dmreg.com

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Ever wonder what happens to all of that leftover food that goes unsold at the Iowa State Fair? It doesn't go to waste.

Vendors this year donated more than 5,500 pounds of food to the Food Bank of Iowa after the State Fair's final day on Aug. 19.

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"This is the first time this has happened and I hope it becomes an annual tradition," said Danny Akright, communications manager for Food Bank of Iowa. "We were thrilled with what we ended up with this year and I think next year, we're going to get more vendors involved. I would say this is just going to grow from here."

Donations of meat, produce, dairy, eggs, juice and condiments came from the following vendors:

  • Iowa Turkey Federation
  • Jalapeño Pete’s
  • Iowa Pork Producers
  • Stockman’s Inn Beer and Food
  • Fresh American Lamb
  • Cattleman’s Beef Quarters
  • The Depot Beer and Food/Campbell’s Concessions
  • Cindy’s Place
  • Iowa Egg Council
  • Midwest Dairy Association

About 12 volunteers — including staff from Iowa Food Bank and Iowa State Patrol — worked together to collect the donations.

The mostly perishable refrigerated and frozen foods were taken to Food Bank of Iowa's warehouse on the east side of Des Moines. Partner agencies then distributed items to food pantries, meal sites, shelters and anti-hunger organizations throughout 55 counties in Iowa.

"These are areas where people might not expect food insecurity exists like suburbs and rural communities that are especially hard hit," Akright said. "So it's going to every type of community."

Iowa Egg Council donated 18,144 leftover hard-boiled eggs from its State Fair egg-on-a-stick booth.

"It's a nice experience for the people who receive them because it's almost like they are having them at the fair themselves," said Kevin Stiles, executive director of the Iowa Egg Council. "It's a little bit of the fair brought home with them when they go to the food bank or the food pantries."

This isn't the first time the organization, founded in 1973, has donated.

"We have a long-term relationship with the Food Bank of Iowa," Stiles said. "We've made contributions of eggs for the last three years and have a history prior to that. We have a commitment that people in Iowa and across the country have affordable access to high-quality protein, and certainly, eggs fit that commitment exactly."

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