Feeding 44 Serves Nemaha County
February 1, 2023
Each month, vehicles weave through a parking lot on the Peru State College campus as volunteers place a mixture of nourishing items into their neighbors’ trunks.
In collaboration with the Food Bank of Lincoln, the college hosts this monthly mobile food distribution known as Feeding 44—an initiative celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
“The Food Bank made it easy for us to get started with well-oiled systems and processes, and the college is always committed to providing engaging opportunities for students to get involved,” said Rachel Schwindt, the Peru State College student (now alumnus) who helped establish Feeding 44 after learning about food insecurity in her community. “That combination has led to a partnership that can stand the test of time.”
Aptly named for its service to county 44, this collaboration aims to alleviate hunger in Nemaha County, where an estimated 12.1 percent of neighbors are food insecure.
The program wouldn’t have started without the support of Catholic Social Services and former Peru State College President Dan Hanson and his wife, Elaine (both recently retired). Elaine was also a key supporter of the Auburn BackPack Program. And like Schwindt, Bobcat graduates Je’Kerra Hopper and Bailey Bindle were stars in directing the program during their time as students, with Bindle even adding medical screening to Feeding 44 events.
“This distribution has been something they [neighbors] can count on and rely on to have food to put on the table,” said Dana Stovall, career services specialist at Peru State College and Feeding 44’s program coordinator. “Food is shared with family and friends who are going through a difficult time. It’s been a blessing for this community.”
Dana ensures Feeding 44 is ready to serve each month by coordinating campus organizations and staff members to help distribute food. One month it was the baseball team. The next, the bowling team. Volleyball. And so on. The Peru State College security team manages the traffic flow. Together, these groups help connect an average of 200 families to meals each month.
“Feeding 44 and the Food Bank have had a tremendous impact on Nemaha County, including our students,” said Dr. Timothy Borchers, vice president of academic affairs at Peru State College. “We have a lot of students who come from financially challenging conditions. Having Feeding 44 as a consistent supply of food each month has been significant for our students.”