The World Food Prize Foundation

New Award Established on Gov. Ray's 85th Birthday to Honor Ray and Iowa Humanitarians


The creation of the “Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Award” was announced today and will be presented annually at the Iowa Hunger Summit, organized each October by The World Food Prize.

(September 26, 2013) - In recognition of Gov. Robert D. Ray’s global humanitarian leadership, and as a special honor marking his 85th birthday, The World Food Prize Foundation today announced the creation of a new annual award in Ray’s honor.

The “Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Award” will be presented annually to an Iowan who has provided significant leadership in confronting hunger and alleviating human suffering both at home and abroad, much as Gov. Ray did on behalf of Asian refugees during his time in office. In 1979, Gov. Ray returned from Thailand, having seen thousands starving in Cambodian Refugee Camps. Moved to help, Gov. Ray established Iowa SHARES (Iowa Sends Help to Aid Refugees and End Starvation). World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn, then an aide to the governor, served as executive director of this campaign, which rushed food and Iowa doctors and nurses to the Cambodian border to provide life saving assistance. Gov. Ray also welcomed Tai Dam refugees from Laos to settle in Iowa, thus keeping their customs and culture intact, and was the first political governing leader anywhere in the world to offer a refuge for thousands of Vietnamese “Boat People” who were perishing at sea.

The new award was announced in the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates’ Iowa Gallery, a special room dedicated to telling the stories of Iowa’s great agricultural and humanitarian history, through artwork created by Iowa artists. Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of The World Food Prize and a former adviser to Gov. Ray, made the announcement while standing in front of a painting by Rose Frantzen of Maquoketa. The painting is based on historic photographs from the 1970s and ‘80s, and features a Cambodian refugee woman holding her hungry child. Included in the painting are smaller-scale depictions of several other events that transpired during this period, for which Gov. Ray provided extraordinary political leadership.

“Governor Robert Ray provided unparalleled global leadership during an immense humanitarian crisis, and made the State of Iowa a symbol of hope for desperate, hungry and dying refugees,” said Quinn. “He is in the pantheon of Iowa’s greatest heroes, and therefore it is most fitting that we name this Iowa SHARES award in his honor. By presenting this award each year at the Iowa Hunger Summit, Governor Ray’s legacy will inspire future generations of hunger fighters in our state and across our country.”

The first annual Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Award will be presented on Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 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

ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE:  The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, The World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. The Prize also hosts the annual Borlaug Dialogue international symposium on global food security issues and a variety of youth programs that aim to inspire the next generation to work in the fields surrounding global agriculture. More details at

# # #


© 2024 The World Food Prize Foundation. All Rights Reserved.