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'Food is a human right': New food pantry addresses food insecurity in Council Bluffs

Posted at 10:10 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 23:16:29-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — Together has been serving the Omaha community for over 40 years, and now they’re branching out into Council Bluffs, a community that they say can be sometimes overlooked.

With shopping carts, baskets, rows of food, and the freedom to pick the things your family needs, the new Together Food Pantry doesn’t feel like a food pantry.

Mike Hornacek, CEO and President of Together, said the building located right off West Broadway was actually a grocery store at one point which helps them create a more inviting environment.

“It’s designed to feel as much like a grocery store as possible," Hornacek said.

Focusing on nutrition and connection, the new pantry aims to extend the Together’s generous arm into a sometimes overlooked part of the metro.

According to data collected by United Way in 2017, over 11.6% of people in Pottawatomie County are food insecure, compared to 10.4% in Sarpy County and 13.8% in Douglas County.

Hornacek says unlike in Omaha, not many groups are trying to bridge those inequalities in Council Bluffs.

“Really the major difference is really the food insecurity system itself," Horncek said. "There’s so many more options for people to go get food in Omaha than there is in Council Bluffs.”

That’s why Together is branching out, to provide not just food but good food.

“70-75% of the food available is healthy nutritious dairy, protein and produce," Hornacek said.

Good community support is also a priority for the pantry. Each person who comes through the pantry will meet with an intake specialist to learn more about options like SNAP and WIC.

But unlike at some pantries, Hornacek says all people need to bring is themselves - no paperwork necessary.

“We believe, without compromise, that food is a human right," Hornacek said. "So when you walk through the door, and you express a need for food, you’re not going to get turned away.”

They opened on Monday and say they've seen around 25-35 families stopping in each day.

The together food pantry is located at 3415 W Broadway, Ste B in Council Bluffs.

Their current hours are 1-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 3-7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday

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