Project Pantry Targets Food Crises Without Stigma

AUBURN – Elijah Kennedy took an agriculture leadership class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln just for the academic credit, but soon found himself passionately involved on the front lines of food emergencies.

He helped start Project Pantry in Auburn, whose start-up date just happened to coincide with severe flooding in the area and hundreds of displaced people. The Pantry served 71 people within its first week, no questions asked.

The 21-year-old Project Response volunteer said the typical food pantry model has a list of qualifications and regular paperwork. A coordinator decides what food a person can have and when.

Kennedy:  “We are a place you can go, if you’re in an emergency or crisis, or if you just didn’t plan well because not everyone should be expected to plan for two whole weeks and not be able to get food in between because they don’t have enough money to pay for utilities.”

He and Project Response Advocate Robyn Batterman found a partner with the Presbyterian Church, which offered donations up to 20,000 pounds of food to get the Project Pantry started.

Kennedy said the church’s commitment can have long-lasting benefits for the region.

Kennedy: “Families that are worried about food are more likely to experience things like abuse. Children have lower grades in school, if they are worried about food or don’t have proper nutrition. We want to see the whole community uplifted.”

Project Pantry has also received support from the Lincoln Food Bank. The program serves the counties of Nemaha, Johnson, Pawnee and Otoe with an office at 908 13th St.

Check out the Project Response Facebook page for program details.

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