Serving for the School

Amina Hussain, Staff Writer

According to the Nebraska Legislation, 16.7% of children in Nebraska are Food Insecure. That is about 80,000 children. These children lack consistent food and generally have to sacrifice something in order to guarantee they have food. For example, a student might have to exchange medicine for food. Millard North alone has 19 students who are experiencing food insecurity and receive aid from Millard North with free or reduced lunches. 

“Those folk who applied were at 6% in 2007, and today, in 2022, it’s at 22%. So we’ve seen an increase of 16% of people who qualify for free and reduced lunch,” MN social worker Peggy Breard said. 

With the increasing number of students with food insecurities, it is crucial to ensure that each kid has access to food. This is a problem that many schools are trying to solve. Free and reduced lunches were only the start. The MN Food Pantry is another resource MNHS provides,  ensuring students have access to food for the weekend.

“[MN food pantry] is currently housed in what used to be a utility closet. We have non-perishable items in there that are used for students in need here at Millard North,” Breard said. 

The Food Pantry has multiple shelves filled with pasta, canned meat, canned vegetables, and snacks. Due to most of the food in the pantry being non-perishable, even at a time when donations aren’t coming in, the pantry doesn’t need to be dependent on getting new food. This ensures that students will have a consistent food supply.

Each student receives about two meals and a handful of snacks for the weekend. The food given depends on the supply of the week and does not consist of anything that must be refrigerated. Thus students are not always able to receive nutritious foods. 

“I usually stock a canned tuna or canned chicken breast, and then I try to pair that with something you can make a meal out of. So that they have a meal that they can prepare,” Breard said. 

Sometimes Breard can pack meals, while other times, she can only pack snacks. So, to ensure a stable source of donations, monthly donations come from Rejoice Lutheran Church and Steadfast Bible study.

“Rejoice Lutheran Church is one of our churches. So they donate in September, November, and January. Then we work with Steadfast Bible Study, and they donate on the opposite months. So I get a delivery about once a month,” Beard said.

Students and their families can also receive help from the Mobile Food Pantry, partnered with Millard Public Schools, which is a resource that offers a monthly food supply. 

“Millard Public Schools contracts with the Food Bank for the Heartland to provide a mobile food pantry in the Millard area.  The food is pre-packaged for pick up, and it is delivered to our site located at the Ron Witt building – 13737 Industrial Rd,” Abby Bjornsen said. 

The mobile food pantry offers produce, bread, and dry pantry items for approximately 90 families monthly. By doing this, Food Bank for the Heartland and Millard Public School can certify that no student has to worry about food more than their studies. 

Though there are organizations like the Food Bank for the Heartland, it is still not enough. It is important as an individual with the privilege of having a secure source of food to donate and help the students and families who don’t have that security.