The USDA program, Farm to Table Food Boxes, started mid-April to provide food for families effected by Covid-19 and also provide contracts for distributers to address employment issues. No vendors were awarded contracts in Nebraska, nor did any vendor who wasselected by the USDA serve Nebraska. For over a month, Amanda Shoemaker, Kyla Martin, and Dick Cochran as well as Nebraska Children and Families have been advocating for Nebraska families to receive ‘food boxes’ from this program. They called state senators, US Department of Agriculture and more to hear our case for this program to serve Nebraskans.
Finally, they were able to get food boxes to Kearney from a vendor in Kansas City to bring produce. Nebraska Children and Families gave BCCP $50,000 to buy protein to supplement the produce boxes every week. The last four weeks this team has distributed well over 3,920 boxes of produce and protein to Buffalo County families and shipped more on to Dawson County. June 18th, they brought in a second truck to expand in Buffalo County as well as counties to the south and supply boxes to Dawson’s numbers.
Over 35 food pantry locations/volunteers pick up these boxes on Thursday mornings to distribute among the community. BCCP Board members; Nadia Sa’adi, Janelle Grabowski, and Amanda Shoemaker; community member Jason Sharp; and BCCP staff have helped bring volunteers to help unpack and repack these boxes each Thursday morning for 960+ people. Many students and community members have taken part in helping the distribution of these food boxes. This process would not have been posisble without all the volunteers
All the while these hundreds of boxes are being prepared and served, we have been working with Tom Henning at Cash-Wa, Department of Ag, and the USDA. Last Monday, Tom at Cash-Wa finally received a call from the USDA asking for a new proposal. As of last Saturday, Cash-Wa was awarded an USDA contract for Nebraska as well as many additional states that were not covered originally in the contract. We are so blessed to have this team advocating for our residents and the state. This is a major moment to celebrate! It took a village to coordinate, advocate and collaborate this work.