Steph Black

Steph Black, United Way of Western Nebraska director

A third round of grants through United Way of Western Nebraska’s COVID-19 Community Compassion Fund has been released.

The newest recipient is Community Table of Alliance, staffed entirely by volunteers and operated through donations.

With food insecurity becoming a bigger and bigger problem, Community Table will use the grant funding to serve even more meals for those in need.

“The funds we had available this round was strictly to help address food insecurity,” said Steph Black, United Way executive director. “Community Table was the only applicant we received that addressed that problem.”

The COVID-19 Community Compassion Fund was created by United Way in April to provide non-profit organizations with flexible resources to address the impact of the virus, or another publicly declared crisis, on public health in the community.

The first major contributor to provide seed money was First National Bank of Omaha.

“We’ve been really fortunate to have raised more than $25,000 so far and have funded seven requests from several programs in all of our service areas,” Black said. “The agencies we’ve funded have been very grateful. The biggest concern we’ve heard from all the communities is food insecurity. Rent and utility assistance came in a close second.”

Previous grant recipients have included the Alliance Senior Center for their Feed a Hungry Senior program. The Scottsbluff/Gering Soup Kitchen was funded for their meal program. Also receiving funds was Northwest Community Action Partnership for their food pantries in Alliance and Chadron.

Grant funding for Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska in Gering was used to provide rent and utility assistance for their clients in Scotts Bluff and Cheyenne Counties. The First Christian Church received funding for its food pantry and the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center was funded for providing food boxes.

“Our community has been providing lots of food options for people with things like the drive-through pantry, so things are slowing down a bit now,” Black said.

An Ad Hoc Advisory Committee with community leaders from Alliance, Scottsbluff and Chadron work with United Way on how to best implement the funds to support the needs of the community.

Grants from the COVID-19 Community Compassion Fund are released on a rolling basis as the situation unfolds with resources moving quickly to adapt to evolving community needs. Recipients are then notified as quickly as possible.

The next round of grant applicants will be reviewed in mid-July. Black said funds are still available for 501 (c)(3) non-profit agencies that deal with food insecurity issues. An online application form is available from their website, under the Emergency Resources tab.

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Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at

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