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Food insecurity persists in Omaha-metro throughout pandemic

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 1:56 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Food Bank for the Heartland’s warehouse is a bustling place, the staff constantly bringing and sending out food.

“Our warehouse turns over an average of 26 times a year, right now,” Brian Barks, the President and CEO of the food bank said. “So meaning, roughly twice a month the food that’s in here rolls out and gets replaced. Pre COVID, that number was 15.”

If that seems like a lot, that’s because it is.

“This is a food-insecure problem this food bank has never seen the 40-year history,” Barks said.

In his time, nothing has ever come close to this level of outright need.

“I thought the work we did during the Great Recession was hard, that is nothing compared to the work that we are doing today,” Barks said with a chuckle to himself.

That work by staff and a constant stream of volunteers is what’s keeping food on the tables of families across the metro and far beyond, this month especially.

Hunger Action month means a lot to us here at the food bank, it always has,” he said. “But this year it seems to have even more of an emphasis because of the work that’s needing to be done and the need that needs to be met.”

The need that despite the ebb and flow of COVID cases has continued to increase. Food distribution numbers are on the rise dramatically.

“From January through June of 2020 was somewhere around 13.8 million pounds worth of food. Through that same time period this year, we’re doing about 20 million pounds,” Barks explained.

The Food Bank for the Heartland was able to roughly plan for that this year.

“When we put our budget together, we put a budget for worst-case scenario and so far in the first two months of our fiscal year, we’re seeing it,” he said.

But as the pandemic continues, they’ll have to come up with new solutions. The Food Bank for the Heartland is always in need of donations but they do have a special event coming up.

Mark your calendars, September 17th they’re partnering with Baker’s to stuff a truck full of food. It’ll be at the Baker’s location at 156th & Dodge from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.

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