The Lutheran Family Services International Center of the Heartland, which serves thousands of refugees and immigrants resettling in Omaha each year, is facing a food pantry shortage.
The center, located near 42nd and Center St. focuses on helping refugees and immigrants before, during and after their arrival, and provides culturally appropriate foods as needed for families.
Shawntal Smith, the Statewide Administrator of Community Services for LFS says right now, the food pantry is running very low, which is challenging for the organization and refugees as the demand is high.
“Normally we have some things and we don't have any items at this time,” said Smith as she opened the refrigerator located in the bank.
“This shelf is usually very full of rice and oil and we’re down to our last little bit of rice,” she adds.
Earlier this year, when the organization was receiving more awareness due to support for the refugee community, the organization also received more donations.
“Sometimes when great awareness is brought to an issue and you get a rush of people that are interested, and then people tend to forget that these services are here but our clients never forget that we're here, they're always in need,” said Smith.
Smith says the problem is not only that the supply is low, but demand is high.
“We receive hundreds of refugees to this area each year, we resettle them, and people have great need, especially with us because they trust us, we’re familiar, and we help them with all of their basic needs,” said Smith.
LFS focuses on collecting culturally appropriate foods refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia eat, such as vegetables and un-processed foods because those are familiar foods to immigrants.
Smith says the center also needs hygiene items such as diapers, toothbrushes and sanitary napkins, items people need when starting over and starting a new life.
To donate or learn more about LFS, you can visit their website.