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2023 JEFFERSON AWARDS | Pastor Tessa Cavey - The Sustainer

Rev. Tessa Cavey is "multiplying good" by feeding hundreds of people each week through a food bank she started in her mission of ending hunger in Wheatland, Iowa.

WHEATLAND, Iowa — Rev. Tessa Cavey is more than a faith leader. She has also taken up the call to feed those in need after no other food programs would touch Wheatland, Iowa. 

Now she feeds hundreds of people every week in several communities. At the same time, Cavey goes into the schools each week, involving the youth (or the future, as she calls them) in cooking for those in need.

Every Monday morning, Cavey and her group of volunteers make the trek from Wheatland to Davenport to pick up food at the River Bend Food Bank for the Saint Paul's UCC food bank. 

"It initially started with kids in the summer, they didn't have a place to go and eat lunch," Cavey said. 

The program has now transformed into feeding the community. 

"We serve Calamus, Wheatland, Dixon, Big Rock," she added.

When the program began in 2019, the food bank would hand out around 200 pounds of food a week. In 2023, the food bank hands out around 2,000 pounds of food every week. An operation that big takes many hands to make it work. Cavey hopes the volunteers who help out every week are learning valuable lessons too. 

"I hope that they learned that it is better to give than to receive. And I hope that instills in their hearts. Because I know, it's one thing to say, it's one thing to say. But it's one thing to feel. And to feel that is an awesome thing. It really is."

Many times, the people coming to the food bank are often in the middle of making impossible choices. Cavey recalled one mother who reached out for help

"One lady called and she said 'it's either I feed my kids, I get my sick child, their medicine or electricity stayed on,'" Cavey said, making made sure they were fed through the food bank.

News 8's David Bohlman asked Rev. Cavey how she, through the food bank, "multiplies good". 

"Lead by example. My parents taught me that, my grandparents taught me that whether there was a good off or not, you lead by example. I like to, you know, the youth is the future, no matter what you think or not, youth is the future. So I try to be with the kids all as much as I can. And that's not just St. Paul's kids. That's all the kids in the community."

Cavey said she's learned a lot along the way as well.

"Jesus taught us or continues to teach us that you live by the way he taught you, you know, you live by giving, he gave, he sacrificed himself. If I can do that in any sort of way, I will never be as great as what he has done. Nobody will. But if I could sacrifice anything that I have, in any aspect, in his name, I'm going to do that."

What's more, many times Cavey and her wife foot the bill to keep the food bank running. By using her own vehicle and trailer to get the food, buying the fuel and even sometimes buying the food, Cavey makes sure her communities and others have food in their bellies.

You can learn more about the food bank and Saint Paul's UCC by clicking/tapping here.

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What are the Jefferson Awards? 

All over the QC area, there are people who aren't just doing good, but "multiplying good."

Every year, we honor them with the Jefferson Awards — a nationwide foundation that celebrates amazing acts of public service. This year will be WQAD's 9th season being a Jefferson Awards Media Partner, sponsored by the Good Fee Store, Genesis Health System and Tyson Foods. 

For the next eight weeks, News 8 will showcase our very own nominees from across the Quad Cities. To see all of our nominees, past and present, click/tap here.

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