Feeding into the battle of food insecurity

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:07 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - As people prepare for their Thanksgiving meals, millions of Americans do not know where their next meal will be coming from. Nationwide, roughly 24 million people were reported to be food insecure, meaning they lacked consistent access to food.

According to Feeding across America, 237,000 people in Nebraska are food insecure. Of that, 79,310 are children.

Food insecurity has been an issue prior to the global health pandemic. However, there was an increase of 6 million people reported to be food insecure due to circumstances stemming from COVID-19. Turning food insecurity into a crisis within a crisis.

Nationwide, people have been relying on food banks and pantries to get through struggling times.

The North Platte Salvation Army has been experiencing a similar strain from the increase of need in the community.

“The pantry is looking pretty bare. We are doing okay with frozen food, and we have produce that passes through,” said Major Poff of the Salvation Army. “We are low on canned goods and boxed items.”

Earlier in the fall, the Salvation Army received monetary donations which allowed them to restock the pantry, but that food, for the most part, is gone.

“The need keeps going. It’s not getting less, it is more,” said Major Poff.

In March, the North Platte High School (NPHS) transitioned to provide resources curbside due to the coronavirus. On the second Tuesday of each month, people can drive up the alley near the high school football field and receive food from its pantry. Volunteers load the food directly into their cars.

As the pantry’s coordinators recognized the growing number of people needing assistance, they began to extend some of their services to the public such as the backpack food program. On Fridays, they provide students with food for their weekend meals. They have made modifications to the program to include additional supplemental foods to each bag.

Most pantries in the community do not require an extensive screening process. They are simply fulfilling an immediate need.

“Anyone in need we try to find them,” said Jaylee Shaner from North Platte Public Schools. “That’s the hardest part is finding who needs help and willing to accept the help.”

As people continue to search for ways to feed their families, furry members of the family may suffer in the process.

The North Platte Pet Pantry provides various types of pet food and supplies so that the pressure is taken off of the owners. On Mondays, the pet pantry operates out of a storage unit on S. Willow Street. People are able to drive up and receive customized assistance for their pet’s dietary needs.

“Nobody should have to not be able to provide for their pets as long as we have this available,” said Coordinator Susan Kubart. “I also don’t want people to skimp on their basic needs because they are feeding their animals.”

By participating in food drive events and donating to local pantries, the community can unite and win the fight against food insecurity.

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