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Council Bluffs food pantry expands as need continues to grow

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:11 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The idea of Our Savior’s Lutheran Food and Pet Food Pantry in Council Bluffs started over four decades ago with a cabinet.

“It started as one of the cupboards here in our workroom now. It was just a shelf in there. That was in the late 70s and now it’s grown to where we are now,” said Josh Weesner, Our Savior’s Lutheran Food and Pet Food Pantry Executive Director.

Josh Weesner is now the executive director for the pantry and this runs in his blood.

His grandma helped come up with the initial concept all those years ago.

“It’s really kind of awe-inspiring that it’s grown as much as it has and then there’s the downside that we have to grow like it is,” said Weesner.

This new expansion makes the space about one-third larger than it was previously.

Now, anywhere between 15 and 20 thousand pounds of food comes in and out of these doors each month to help around 2,500 people.

The pantry partners with four others helping to reach people in not only Council Bluffs but Carter Lake and Oakland, Iowa as well as South Omaha.

One of those partners is Story Street Mobile Food Pantry.

“When Josh and I started working together over 12 years ago we used a two-wheeler to move everything and we were able to keep up with it. Now we have equipment, we have a power jack pallet and other equipment and we are moving thousands of pounds every single day,” said Loren Knauss, Story Street Pantry Executive Director.

As the demand has grown—so has the way these partners get food to those most in need.

“Our latest efforts have been to deliver to senior locations and apartment complexes where people don’t have the ability to leave,” said Knauss.

This new space will help crews as they pack deliveries each week to go to those senior care facilities and apartments.

The rest of the new space will be to store the food for the short time it’s here.

It also gives everyone a lot more space to move around during the days community members come to pick up food.

And to think—it all started with one shelf.

“You see a cabinet that probably held 10 items at one point and we are now in the same room and we have more than ten items now,” said Knauss.

Our Savior’s Lutheran Food and Pet Food Pantry and Story Street Pantry plan to grow even more in the coming weeks.

They are working on a plan to help reach even more seniors as well as students in need.

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