For the past three years, the Valley Mobile Food Pantry has been helping people who just need a little extra to get through the month.
The food pantry was organized by the Valley Evangelical Pastors Fellowship. Gary Hashley, pastor at Calvary Memorial Evangelical Free Church in Gering, said it was based on a similar program when he was living in Michigan.
“It’s an opportunity for us as a group to reach out to those in need,” said Mike Mead, pastor of Center Cross Community Church in Gering. “A number of our member churches send people to help out and collect food as well.”
Volunteers from other groups help out as well. Students from Mrs. Nolting’s college composition class at Gering High School helped distribute food in November. Also helping out were students from Community Christian School.
“We really miss those kids in the summer when school is out,” Mead said. “They’re such a big help for us.”
Originally, the food pantry set up in the old Alco parking lot until Paul Reed Construction purchased the land for new offices. Then the pantry set up in the former Sun Mart parking lot in Gering. And they’ve made arrangements to move to the west end of the Monument Mall in Scottsbluff once construction starts on a new supermarket in Gering.
Food distribution takes place at 1 p.m. on the fourth Friday of the month, except the holiday months of November and December, when it’s the third Friday.
Last month, about 150 individuals and families received food from the pantry. No questions are asked about financial eligibility and recipients don’t have to fill out a needs survey. Food is available to those who show up.
“We know there’s a need, even though we have low unemployment in this area,” Mead said. “There are still people on fixed incomes and on food stamps who need a little extra help toward the end of the month until their next check comes in. We don’t hold any illusions we’ll be able to feed a family for a month.”
An average of 125 individuals and families are served by the food pantry each month. Non-perishable food is donated by churches, individuals and local businesses. The Dollar General store in Gering has a collection box that accepts donations.
“What’s really neat is that some people who came for food in the past are now volunteering to help distribute,” Mead said. “The community has been very supporting and we’re thankful for that.”
The Valley Mobile Food Pantry will next be distributing food in the Sun Mart parking lot in Gering on Dec. 17 starting at 1 p.m.