Food Bank for the Heartland needs food to fill its empty shelves.
With donations down and food prices up, the Peter Kiewit Foundation has issued a challenge to the community: Donations worth up to $250,000 will be matched in cash to be used to buy more food.
Food Bank for the Heartland distributes food to 325 nonprofit organizations in 77 counties in Nebraska and 16 in western Iowa.
A struggling economy and rising food prices have led to a drop in donations at food banks nationwide.
“It is something that is not unique to our food bank,” said Brian Barks, spokesman for Food Bank for the Heartland.
At the same time, the amount of food coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Emergency Food Assistance Program also has dropped. The end result is that the food bank has had to purchase more food than ever before to help meet demand, Barks said. In fact, it is now buying four times more food than it was a year ago.
While donations are down, demand is up. Barks said in the area that the food bank serves, roughly 200,000 people are considered “food insecure,” meaning they don't always have the food for their next meal.
Donations can be taken to the food bank at 10525 J St. or monetary donations can be made online at foodbankheartland.org.
Lyn Wallin Ziegenbein, executive director of the Peter Kiewit Foundation said the foundation realized that the food bank needed immediate support.
“What they do get goes directly out again,” she said.
Ziegenbein said the foundation will match all donations between now and Thanksgiving. The foundation will donate $1.66 for each pound of food items donated and will also match each monetary donation.
She said the foundation will keep the challenge going after Thanksgiving to match contributions made from the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign until it reaches $250,000.
Shine the Light on Hunger is a campaign by ConAgra to encourage the community to donate food and goods to the ConAgra ice skating rink and collection barrels around the city. This campaign coincides with the Holiday of Lights Festival.
Chris Kircher, president of the ConAgra Food Foundation said the money made from the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign will also be matched up to $100,000 by ConAgra.
“It is a tremendous boost to the food bank,” Barks said.
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