Sometimes, when God calls us to something, we don’t really know what to expect. But when we answer that call, God does amazing things. That’s the case with our Free Pantry. After the Gibbon Community Center lost the lease on their facility, it looked like Gibbon may not have a food pantry anymore. Instead, a new facility and a new format have allowed the new Gibbon Free Pantry to make a difference in the lives of many in the Gibbon Area.
In January of 2018 volunteers from Faith United Church in Gibbon opened the new Gibbon Free Pantry at 1021 1St Street in the basement of the local Head Start facility. The new pantry is open on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30-8pm. As a free-choice pantry, the facility looks a little like a grocery store where patrons can move through the area selecting the items that best work for them and their family. Patrons can select a certain number of items from each shelf. In addition to food, the pantry also has toiletry and clothing items to give away. And, because the pantry has no government funding, there’s no restriction to how often clients can visit. Families can come one a week, once a month or whenever they need assistance to keep food on the table.
The pantry is 100% volunteer run meaning there is absolutely no staff costs. Since the facility is owned by the church, there is no rental cost. Head Start also supports the program by paying the utilities on the entire property. All that adds up to mean nearly every cent donated to the free pantry goes towards the purchase of food! As a partner with Food Bank of the Heartland, the Gibbon Free Pantry can order everything from frozen meat to fresh veggies and sliced bread to canned fruit (all based on availability) at a discounted rate.
The free pantry also gets food donations from a number of different outlets. Family Fresh Market in Kearney donates food weekly, and the East Lawn Food Pantry shares their excess bread items each week. Community food drives such as the “Souper Bowl of Caring“, the U.S. Postal Service “Stamp Out Hunger,” and the Boy Scouts “Scouting for Food” also add food to the pantry shelves. Faith United Church also has a Pantry Sunday each month to help gather needed supplies and takes donations anytime the church doors are open. Corporate gifts from Cargill and Walmart have also helped to purchase thousands of pounds of food.
If you feel led to support the ministry with donations instead of volunteering, we welcome that as well. You can make a monetary donation we can use to buy bulk food. Or, if you’d rather shop for the items yourself, you can feel free. Some of our greatest needs are toiletries (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.), paper goods (paper towels, toilet paper), diapers (any size, but mostly larger sizes), and cereals.
The pantry has been an amazing tool to allow neighbors to help neighbors. And together, we can make a difference in our community!
HOW MANY PEOPLE SERVED?: While the number of families that use the pantry varies each night, we average nearly 25 families each time we are open. In our first 8 months, we have had 177 different families sign in with a combined total of 633 people fed through this ministry.