Peru, Nebraska – Peru State College is proud to announce the tenth anniversary of the Feeding 44 Program. The program, a partnership between Peru State College and the Food Bank of Lincoln, provides a rural mobile food distribution center for residents of Nemaha County and the surrounding area.
The idea for Feeding 44 originated in 2013 from Dr. Kyle Ryan, who then shared it with Peru State sophomore Rachel (Henry) Schwindt. Ryan contacted the Food Bank of Lincoln, and Schwindt, originally from Auburn, met with John Mabry, Vice-President of Fundraising and Engagement. Mabry shared that Nemaha County was the most food-insecure county in the sixteen- county region they served. The problem, as Schwindt learned, was food access, not food availability. Schwindt agreed to help provide a conduit to get food from the Food Bank of Lincoln to Nemaha County.
“The fact that my hometown community was labeled as food insecure honestly shocked me,” said Schwindt, “and then inspired me to do something about it. There was this opportunity knocking at my door to start something that could help people, so I just went for it.”
Schwindt became aware of a grant that could help fund the first food distribution. With the help of her professors, she applied for and was awarded one of 100 Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants for youth-led projects intended to reduce childhood hunger. She applied for more grants, and the program continued to gain funding; Feeding 44 was established.
The initial Feeding 44 food distribution took place on May 10, 2013, in the Al Wheeler Activity Center with collaboration between volunteers from Peru State College, the Food Bank of Lincoln, and Catholic Social Services. Twenty-two people representing nine families were served. Ten years later, Feeding 44 provides food to over 200 families (or households) monthly.
Recent statistics from the Food Bank of Lincoln indicate that 12.1 % of the population in Nemaha County deal with food insecurity. The Feeding 44 Program plays a vital role in addressing that issue. Dr. Tim Borchers, Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Peru State College, praised the long-running program.
“Feeding 44 is a great example of how Peru State College gives back to the local community,” said Borchers. “The program has also provided service and leadership opportunities for our students, which is central to our mission and values. The longevity of the program is a testament to the important role it plays in the community and to the dedication and commitment of the College to support our community.”
Feeding 44 distributes food on the first Friday of each month from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. on the Peru State Campus in the parking lot adjacent to the baseball field. The Food Bank of Lincoln provides the food; students, faculty, and staff volunteers assist with the distribution. Carrie Bradrick, Director of Student Activities and Programs and liaison for the program, appreciates the student's involvement.
“We love that our students can help with efforts like Feeding 44 in such a tangible way. They can interact with community members (and) even though the interaction is quick, the smiles go a long way for both the students and the community members.”
For Schwindt, the tenth anniversary of Feeding 44 is remarkable. “For the community (and) college,” said Schwindt, “this milestone means that no matter how small the idea, grant, or opportunity is at its inception, it can make a significant impact if you continue to nurture it and support it. A huge thank you to Peru State College for making that happen.”
For more information on Feeding 44, including volunteer opportunities, contact Carrie Bradrick at CBradrick@peru.edu.
Editor’s Note: Katie Nungesser, Network Capacity Administrator for the Food Bank of Lincoln, supplied the following information.
Beginning May 1st, those receiving food from the United States Department of Agriculture must complete The Emergency Food Assistance Program form (TEFAP). Forms will also be available on-site.
Starting July 1, 2023, anyone picking up food for another household must have a Proxy form on file with the Food Bank. Notes or text messages will still be accepted in May and June, but Proxy forms will be handed out to be completed by July. These forms must be filled out once per year and can be returned to volunteers or staff at any mobile distribution. Proxy forms can also be mailed to Food Bank of Lincoln, 1221 Kingbird Road, Lincoln, NE 68521.