Longtime CWS staff member, now retired, honored with Iowa Humanitarian Award

September 24, 2015

(Des Moines, IA)  – Longtime Church World Service staff member, the Rev. Russ Melby will be able to commemorate his retirement after three decades of service in fighting hunger and poverty when he receives the annual Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award in Des Moines Thursday.

“Russ Melby embodied so much of what Church World Service is about, in helping communities to rally in fighting hunger and poverty,” CWS President and CEO, the Rev. John L. McCullough said. “I am thrilled the World Food Prize Foundation chose to honor Russ in this way, and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Russ and his family.”

Church World Service works to end hunger and poverty, and to promote peace and justice, in more than 30 countries. Melby worked to organize CROP Hunger Walks across Iowa during his tenure with the New York-based agency, in addition to engaging communities of faith to support humanitarian assistance. CWS is the national sponsor of CROP Hunger Walks, which raise money for hunger-fighting programs in the U.S. and support the life-sustaining work of CWS globally.

“Russ helped thousands of people in Iowa to see the difference they can each make in fighting hunger,” McCullough said. “I can’t think of a more deserving person.”

The World Food Prize Foundation established the Robert D. Ray Iowa Shares Humanitarian Award in 2013 in recognition of the exceptional leadership that former Governor Ray demonstrated in dealing with multiple situations affecting refugees in Indochina, and to honor him on his 85th birthday (September 26). In doing so, the award was named after the Iowa SHARES campaign, which the Governor created in 1979 in order to send desperately needed food and medicine to suffering and dying refugees from Cambodia. Iowa SHARES stands for Iowa Sends Help to Aid Refugees and End Starvation.

The third annual Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award will be presented to Rev. Melby on Tuesday, October 13, at the Iowa Hunger Summit, a free, grassroots event organized by The World Food Prize to unite all Iowans working to alleviate hunger at home and abroad. More information, an agenda and registration is available at iowahungersummit.org.


Jordan Bles, CWS (in Iowa) 410-596-2664