Gibbon fights food insecurity with free pantry

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GIBBON, Neb. (KSNB) - People who don't know where their next meal will come from or who need personal hygiene items have a new option in Gibbon.

"We all have to help each other and this is one way you can give if you don't know how to help," said Jodi Petersen of Gibbon.

She is a co-founder of The Little Free Pantry, the community's project to fill a big need for people needing food, toiletries and other supplies.

The two-shelf pantry is left unlocked 24/7 in the Gibbon Baptist Church's parking lot, and people are encouraged to grab what they need and donate what they can.

Petersen said the thought of people abusing the free resource has crossed her mind.

"We're just putting it out there that we're doing our part. It's kind of on the honor system that people will take care of it and see that it's a part of the community," she added.

The next available option for these families for help is several miles away and items are shared with neighboring communities.

"We have a good food pantry at the community center, but they can only help people so much," Gibbon Baptist Church Pastor Matt Wolf said. "We know that there's a need. There's a large population of kids at the local school on free or reduced lunch, so there's big need for food for families here."

At Gibbon Elementary, 205 students are on the free and reduced lunch program, according to the Nebraska Department of Education.

That's more than 56 percent of the total number of enrolled students.

At the high school, that number just drops to 54 percent, or 138 students.

"We've already had people take some stuff this week and we've had some people come in and bring some new stuff," Wolf said.

The stats are about even when compared with high schools in the Tri-Cities:

Kearney High School: 499 students (34%)
Hastings Senior High: 574 students (54%)
Grand Island Senior High: 1,686 students (68%)

To look up how you can take advantage of your school's free or reduced meal programs or for more information,
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