canned food teaser

BRIDGEPORT — A free mobile food pantry targeting rural hunger will be in Bridgeport Oct. 7.

Food Bank for the Heartland is partnering with WellCare to host the event as part of the Farmer’s Market and Fall Festival at Bridgeport Public Schools, 800 Q Street, from 4-6 p.m. or until all of the food has been distributed.

Angie Grote, communications manager for Food Bank for the Heartland, said the program works directly with communities where there is a high need and limited availability for assistance.

“In working with WellCare, we were able to identify Bridgeport as a community that would be considered in need,” Grote said.

Bridgeport Public Schools qualified for the CEP program, allowing all students free breakfast and lunch every day at school. Bridgeport Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Lambert said the food pantry is an additional step in showing the importance of getting good nutrition provided for the students of the district.

“We hadn’t heard of this program before,” Lambert said. “So we’re excited to be able to bring this opportunity to our school and to the people of our community.”

The outreach in Bridgeport will be funded and staffed by WellCare with additional staffing by volunteers from Bridgeport Public Schools, Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska and United Way of Western Nebraska. Food distributed will be shelf-stable foods along with fresh produce and fresh bakery items for families in need. Those in need of assistance in Morrill County and the surrounding communities are welcome. Families are encouraged to bring boxes or bags to assist in carrying the food items. No identification is required.

Results of a study supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Nielsen Company show approximately 9.8 percent, or 480 people, in Morrill County are at-risk for hunger.

Grote said Omaha-based Food Bank for the Heartland conducts 35-40 food pantries per month in the 93 counties that it serves in western Iowa and Nebraska. In fiscal year 2019, the program provided more than 22 million meals.

“Despite being headquartered in Omaha, we serve urban, suburban and rural areas across Western Iowa and Nebraska wherever we see need,” Grote said.

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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