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Food banks and pantries helping area families during school closures

Posted at 6:18 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 19:32:06-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With schools across Nebraska potentially canceled long-term, families are starting to plan how they will feed their children every day.

Some families rely on the two meals a day schools provide as part of free and reduced lunch. Area food banks and pantries haven't seen a rush yet but they're preparing for one.

The Heart Ministry Center in Omaha typically serves 600 clients a week. This week the pantry is moving to express boxes with 10-14 days worth of meals for families, compared the the typical option of having families select all of the food themselves. This expedites the process and limits exposure. If students will be out of school for a long period of time, the pantry will work with the families on a case by case basis.

"If they need more food sooner than that they can talk to us and get more food if needed," said Eric Crawford, the chief executive officer at Heart Ministry Center.

Across town at the Food Bank of the Heartland, volunteers were busy getting community boxes ready to send out.

"We are committed to helping our neighbors who are struggling with food insecurity throughout the year and especially at this time right now," said Angie Grote, the food bank's communications manager.

The food bank is in constant communication with area schools and is ready to help families out. However, as business groups are starting to not come in and volunteer due to the spread of the coronavirus, the food bank is looking for more volunteers.

"We want to reassure the community that the food bank is here and that we're working with others to do what we can to meet the needs," Grote said. "The food bank is here, we're open and distributing food to our partners and through our programs and our volunteer center is open as well. We are putting a call out for help in our volunteer center so if you are healthy and are willing to help us sort produce or assemble community boxes it would make a real difference, especially right now."

In an email to 3 News Now, Omaha Public Schools said they're working with groups such as Food Bank for the Heartland to connect its students with these types of organizations and they're thankful for the community's support at this time.