Groups meet together to address food insecurities in Nebraska

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - According to Food Bank for the Heartland, one in five Nebraskans are experiencing food insecurities and may not know where their next meal is going to come from.

Food from a Nebraska food pantry is displayed at a conference in North Platte where organizations from all over the state met together to discuss how to combat hunger in their communities. (Source: Holly Barraclough, KNOP TV)

To combat the ongoing hunger issues, several groups met together Thursday at the Sandhills Convention Center to network and share ideas on how to address the issue of hunger.

"Those numbers are staying unfortunately pretty stable we would like to see them be going down, but they are staying pretty stable, but the more partners that were able to add the more individuals coming in utilizing their services will see those numbers start going down," said Michelle Sause, Assistant Director of Network Relations for Food Bank.

Representatives from 25 organizations came together promoting education and innovation around food insecurity. Put on by the Food Bank for the Heartlands they said the conference provides an opportunity for partners to convene and share best practices concerning fighting hunger, ask questions and learn from one another and industry experts so they can build their organization's capacity and serve their clients dealing with food insecurity more effectively.

The groups that met Thursday agreed that hunger doesn't discriminate and can hit anyone at anytime. One group that is being helped by a food pantry are the students at The University of Nebraska Kearney.

Monica Mueller runs the pantry on campus and said food pantries are for anyone and they are working to break down stigmas.

"We really are trying to break that down and I think a lot of students have done a great job helping with that promoting that on campus and trying to make it seem more of a natural thing to do. If you don't have enough money until your next payday, just stop and grab lunch one day or something like that," said Mueller.

Mueller also said if you are needing assistance to not be embarrassed as all walks of life utilize the service and they are happy to provide it to anyone who will use the items.

"Food Bank for the Heartland has been part of this community for 38 years, and our network of partners across Nebraska and Iowa continues to grow," said Brian Barks, president and CEO of Food Bank for the Heartland. "We are grateful for this network of dedicated organizations and individuals who support our mission and operations and are making a profound impact in their communities. We appreciate this time to come together each year and learn from one another."