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Toast and Jam Tim Johnson

March 14, 2019 | Newsletter

For Tim Johnson, it started with a piece of toast and a smear of jam.

While working as a research scientist at Pioneer Hi-Bred, Johnson began a regular series of low-key fundraisers centered on toast and jam in the mornings. Coworkers brought in home-baked bread, and the good will donations started to flow. At the Food Bank of Iowa, Johnson is known as “Toast and Jam Tim,” but there’s a lot more to the story.

“We wanted to find a way to give back, and the Food Bank of Iowa was an obvious choice,” said Johnson. “In agriculture, one of our greatest icons is Norman Borlaug,whose goal was to feed the world. I’ve always been one who believes you take care of your own first.”

So he kept his focus local. What started with his collection of small donations from office toast and jam parties grew to volunteering at the Food Bank. Then came his role as a team lead for Pioneer’s Combat Hunger food drive.

Then came the vineyard. Tim and his wife, June, have operated a small vineyard, selling grapes to an Iowa winery. Years ago, when they donated the first $100 in profit, they committed to 10 percent of all future proceeds. Grape by grape, Tim and June gave back.

Today, Tim is a regular volunteer and donor. He staffs a weekly shift on the Food Bank of Iowa’s new Agency Shopping Mobile, rescuing food from local retail stores and delivering it to partner agencies in the Des Moines metro.

Recently, Tim and June sold the vineyard. From the proceeds, they set aside funds to feed children. Their $5,000 gift dedicated to the Food Bank’s BackPack Program will go a long way.

“A hungry child is a child for whom it’s difficult to learn, one who doesn’t feel secure,” said Johnson. “I have four beautiful grandchildren and I’d move heaven and earth to make sure they weren’t hungry. Children need to be fed to be ready to take on life, and that’s the bottom line.”

Danny
Danny Akright |