The Bellevue Food Pantry received its largest donation yet — more than $75,000 from Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Over the last year, members of the Bellevue congregation worked to raise these funds as part of its 75th anniversary celebration.
In total, parishioners raised $75,323.30, exceeding their goal of $67,500.
The church has been sending the pantry checks periodically since the campaign began. The latest check, delivered Thursday at the Bellevue Food Pantry, was about $17,000, said JoLene Heibel, co-chair of the 75th anniversary.
To raise funds, Heibel said church members held various fundraisers over the past year, such as a children’s talent show.
While Immanuel Lutheran organized the events, Jean Granahan, co-chair of the 75th anniversary, said the donation wouldn’t be possible without the community’s support.
“It wasn’t just our congregation; this came from the whole Bellevue community,” Granahan said.
They chose to raise money for the food pantry because they understand the great need for food security within Bellevue, Heibel said.
According to pantry records, it served 2,575 people last year. Carmen Bradley, Sarpy County community development director for the pantry, said foot traffic picked up this year after the spring flooding. Some of those families come consistently to make ends meet on a low income, while others come after experiencing a “hiccup,” Bradley said, such as losing a job.
Bradley said she understands firsthand to not know where her next meal was coming from.
“At one time in my life, I remember, not knowing what to do, and the Bellevue Ministerial Association was there for me,” Bradley said.
The money will allow the pantry to purchase vouchers and necessary items that are out-of-stock.
The pantry, which was formerly housed in a trailer at Immanuel Lutheran, has been unable to give out vouchers for perishable items since October due to a lack of monetary donations. Bradley said it’s important to not just give these families random canned goods, but with a wholesome bag of groceries that they can make a proper meal with.
“Families need things to go with the spaghetti and the sauce, or the cereal you need milk,” Bradley said. “This allows an opportunity for families to shop and get some of those other items that they need.”