Peru State College
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News Release

Peru State student establishes "Feeding 44" initiative with Food Bank of Lincoln and Catholic Social Services to feed Nemaha County's hungry

Food distribution center set for second Friday of every month in the AWAC


Rachel Henry
Rachel Henry

(Peru, Neb.) Peru State is partnering with the Food Bank of Lincoln and Catholic Social Services of Southeast Nebraska to create a rural mobile food distribution center for one of Nebraska’s most food insecure areas, Nemaha County, called Feeding 44.

Recent statistics from the Food Bank of Lincoln show that more than 950 individuals in Nemaha County live in poverty, 290 of whom are children. The goal of Feeding 44 is to eliminate this "red area" in Nebraska’s 44th County, Nemaha.

The launch of Feeding 44 will be from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, May 10 in the Al Wheeler Activity Center (AWAC) on campus. Distributions will continue to take place on the second Friday of each month during the same time at the same location. Volunteers are encouraged to assist with the distributions.

Feeding 44 will also host a food drive in conjunction with Peru State’s Institute for Community Engagement (ICE) the week of April 22-27 to commemorate Global Youth Service Day and raise awareness about childhood hunger. Barrels will be located in the Student Center and AWAC for students, faculty, and community members to drop off canned goods and non-perishable items. Donations will also be accepted at the Spring Alumni Football Game on Saturday, April 27.

Rachel Henry, a sophomore sport and exercise science major and business administration/management minor from Auburn, started the initiative when she applied for and was awarded a $500 Sodexo Foundation Youth Grant. One-hundred grants of up to $500 were awarded by the Sodexo Foundation to youth-led projects that aim to reduce childhood hunger in local communities throughout America. At the same time, grant winners educate and mobilize their peers around the issue, expanding the pool of people actively searching for solutions to ending childhood hunger.

Associate Professor of Education and Human Performance Lab Coordinator Dr. Kyle Ryan, who mentored Henry throughout the grant application process, said, “Rachel’s enthusiasm for engaging the community is unparalleled. While I may have suggested she apply for the grant and provided some input, the credit of successfully authoring the grant is entirely hers and something she should be very proud of. Very few college students can say that they have served as an AmeriCorps Service Scholar, placed first in the PBL State Leadership Competition and authored a grant of this nature. This is even more impressive when considering Rachel is only a sophomore and this is her first year at Peru State. I am also pleased to say that Rachel is Nebraska’s only finalist selected for the Public Health Early Admission Student Track (PHEAST) and Peru State’s second finalist in as many years.”

Henry said, “I plan to earn a Master’s degree in public health, so this project has allowed me to explore the field on a much larger scale than I had ever imagined. The process of starting the Feeding 44 initiative has taught me a lot about civic involvement and reaching out to faculty and administrators. Working closely with community members and service agencies to help people struggling to feed their families is incredibly rewarding, and the opportunity to take on a leadership role at Peru State and in the community is a unique experience for which I am very grateful. I hope our efforts make a difference in the lives of our Nemaha County neighbors long into the future.”

Julie Taylor-Costello, ICE director, said, “Rachel is serving the community she calls home in such a wonderful capacity. Not only is she gaining some genuinely valuable experiences, she is setting an excellent example for her peers and the local community. Rachel saw a need, took the initiative and is having a profound impact. I have been impressed with her determination and creativity and am so proud of what she has accomplished.”

The mission of Peru State’s Institute for Community Engagement is to foster a greater understanding of the leadership role students can play in community development by creating opportunities for students to engage with society and apply what they have learned in meaningful ways. The Institute coordinates relevant learning experiences integrated with the college’s academic programs. Projects and courses are designed to make an impact at the community level, broadly defined in terms of scope and location (campus, local, regional, abroad). Program participants will have opportunities to develop and apply leadership, critical thinking, project management and communication skills.

For more information on Feeding 44, including volunteer opportunities or what items can be donated, contact Henry at or 402-274-7240.