OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Heartland Hope Mission provides food for families in need -- but due to coronavirus, they've been forced to alter the way people can shop for food.
"This is a crisis situation and one of the great things about Nebraskans is we help each other," said Pastor Chelsea Salifou, Heartland Hope Mission CEO.
Heartland Hope Mission switched to a drive-thru food pantry in response to COVID-19.
“There are so many families who have their kids at home unexpectedly and they're trying to provide for their kid--we also have a lot of elderly clients who are being advised not to go out so they really don’t have a way to get access to those very needed food services," said Pastor Salifou.
Pastor Salifou said without volunteers, it would be difficult to serve the thousands of people need.
"It's been very challenging because we're serving triple the number of people with a lot less volunteers and we need a lot of volunteers still," said Pastor Salifou.
Pastor Salifou said they need people, like Margaret Keith, who has been volunteering at the pantry for about a year.
“Everybody has to think differently, at least for the time period,” said Keith. “I think the number one rule for all of us is be flexible because things are not the same and things are changing by the minute not the day, not the month, they're changing all the time.”
Keith said while times are hard, she believes our country can get through it.
“My parent’s generation in WWII -- they rationed, they lived through lots of things and my generation -- I’m 66 -- we haven't… we've had it pretty easy. We haven't had to sacrifice a lot. Well, now it's time." said Keith.
“We should have more people doing this because it is a big deal… there's no buts about it. Everyone here needs help," said Caden Chadek.
Pantry leaders said they saw nearly 1,300 people on Saturday morning alone.
"At this time, it could be anyone that needs help. Your neighbor, it could be you, and it's fine to come and get help because no one planned on this. No one knew this was coming and so come and get the food and resources that you need because your family needs access to food," said Pastor Salifou.
For those who can donate, Pastor Salifou said the pantry needs more cereal, pasta and milk.
Heartland Hope Mission’s drive-pantry will be open every Tuesday evening, Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning at its South Omaha location.
The Millard location will be open the second Saturday and last Wednesday of every month.