Bellevue pantry expands hours after increased demand

People seeking food assistance there has tripled in the past nine months.
Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 10:19 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 10:38 PM CST
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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - A Bellevue food pantry fears a giving hangover after the holidays. So many families are seeking food assistance that Bellevue Food Pantry is extending its hours on weekdays and weekends.

The staff worries whether donors will forget about families in need as demand increases.

Some of the most important items includes pastas, cereal and toiletries.

“These are things that are the most popular that we buy at the grocery store, and we go through those things very fast,” Carmen Bradley said.

The pantry near 20th and Franklin streets serves families each week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon, and again from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Due to increased demand, it will extend its hours to cater to food insecure families.

Bellevue Food Pantry is extending its hours from 4 o’clock to 7 o’clock on Wednesdays because some families arrived after hours in need of a meal to put on the table.

“I have three small kids,” mother Diana Johnson said. “Anything the pantry can provide to low-income families is greatly appreciated.”

The number of people seeking food assistance has tripled in the past nine months.

Carmen Bradley says the demand will wane when families earn sustainable income. Until then, she’s worried about falling behind on food.

The pantry is afraid of a philanthropic hangover after the holidays. Staff members and volunteers are afraid families who can afford to donate are going to forget that others will still face hardships purchasing meals.

If anyone knows how it feels to seek assistance, it’s Carmen. She relied on the shelves in her pantry to feed her family in 2008 before she joined Bellevue Food Pantry.

“I needed something temporary until I started a new job.”

She says it’s satisfying work, but she hopes she can keep up for the sake of Douglas and Sarpy County families.

“We need to be there for families.”

Bellevue Food Pantry will also open on the first and third Saturdays each month. If that’s successful, Carmen says it could expand even more. Staff members are searching for the best way to make themselves available to families in need.

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