'Bringing all of those good memories back home': Omaha church starts culturally appropriate food pantry

Posted at 7:06 AM, Mar 22, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Food does more than nourish our bodies—it nourishes our souls, too.

A meal can connect us to our past, bring back cherished memories with loved ones, and remind us of home.

Sadly, this can be lost for some migrants and refugees in America, but Hanscom Park United Methodist Church is working to change that.

“The All People’s Pantry idea is a community idea, and being a community idea was just listening from people,” said Pastor Peter Karanja, Associate Pastor for Community Engagement.

Karanja is from Kenya and he recognized a need here in Omaha for a food pantry that’s culturally diverse.

“Being here in the U.S. as an international student, I could hardly get all the food that are from home. So getting to know there is a place where I can access the food, that I can resonate with the food that I grew up eating, it’s amazing," said Karanja.

The All People’s Pantry provides food for anyone in need, focusing on items from other countries that are hard to find in traditional grocery stores.

“This is rare food, you don’t easily find them. So if there’s a place where they consider my dignity of me eating wherever I want, that would be kind of another big step, and just bringing all of those good memories back home," said Karanja.

"There is a growing immigrant and refugee population in the Omaha metro area. and they don’t eat the regular foods that one might be used to at the common pantry," said Ochanda Gabon-Okoyo, a pantry volunteer.

Gabon-Okoyo says the pantry helps reduce food insecurity and eliminate food waste, all while bringing representation to different cultures.

“I wouldn’t know what the next-door neighbor needs unless I bring somebody from the next-door neighbor's house inside, having a conversation, or saying 'hey, what can I do to help?'” Gabon-Okoyo said.

It’s a resource that supports our neighbors and allows us to learn more about them.

“People get to know other people's cuisine, of which they are special. It’s good cuisine, very nutritious, healthy, and that’s how we exchange the world and get to love each other more," said Karanja.

Hanscom Park United Methodist Church is hosting a pop-up culturally appropriate food pantry event this upcoming Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They're located at 4444 Frances St.

They are still accepting nonperishable donations during open church hours.

Some items they are looking for include:

  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Maize Flour (Cornmeal)
  • Sorghum Flour
  • Cassava Flour
  • Teff Flour
  • Rice
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Milk Powder
  • Stock Cubes
  • RAW peanuts
  • DRIED Fish
  • Dates
  • Honey
  • Black Tea
  • DRIED red kidney beans
  • DRIED black eyed peas/bean
  • DRIED Lima Beans
  • DRIED Chick Peas
  • DRIED Pigeon Peas
  • $10 Gift Cards from Asian Market or Supermercado (for perishables, spices, etc.)

Visit their website to learn more.

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