WAVERLY – The sights and sounds of the fall and winter holiday season are upon Waverly.
There’s Christmas music on the airwaves, decorations going up and a few snows have already graced the area.
Also of note, the local food bank is gearing up for the annual influx of goods that stock the shelves during winter.
“It’s that time of the year where a lot of people are doing things for us,” said DeLynn Hay, who helps operate the food pantry at First United Methodist Church in Waverly.
Hay was referencing yearly efforts like the big collection effort by the Waverly chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA), as well as the usual drive from Waverly High School’s student council and the Dare to Share Christmas tree lighting event later in the season.
So, there are plenty of items coming in.
“People are collecting as well as contributing donations,” Hay said.
As of now, the Waverly food pantry’s shelves are fairly well-stocked, Hay said. There are some items that they are running low on, however.
“Cereal is one thing we don’t have a lot of,” Hay said.
Personal care products are also in short supply.
“Shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, any of the kinds of personal care items we can always use,” he said.
Other needed items are laundry detergent, dish soap and toilet paper.
Stuffing mix is also desired during this time of year.
“That’s something we could use,” Hay said.
The pantry saw an uptick in activity during the summer, but use has slowed down slightly since then.
The food pantry’s history goes back at least two decades, and Hay has been involved for the last 10 years.
He has noticed that the pantry gets busier as time passes.
“It’s increased quite a bit,” he said. “It’s increased quite a bit over the years.”
In Nebraska, 227,350 people live with food insecurity, according to a 2016 study by Feeding America. That’s an 11.9 percent food insecurity rate. Overall, 41 million people across the U.S. are food insecure.
The frequency with which people visit the pantry is changing. More people are taking offerings more often,
“We see more people on a regular basis,” he said. “Instead of once a year, we see people three to four times a year.”
The most someone could use Waverly’s food pantry is roughly four times a year, as the bank allows one visit every 90 days. That helps the pantry be available to more people.
“We want to try to serve as many people as we can,” Hay said.
In those 90-day waiting periods, Hay said people can visit food pantries in Lincoln.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for people to go other places,” he said. “Lots of places in Lincoln that also provide food.”
Hay said the pantry is always collecting item donations or monetary contributions. Donations can be made at the church, which is open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekdays.
Hay said he and the others who help operate the food bank are always willing to hear suggestions on how to improve the pantry.
“Our mission is to try to serve the Waverly community,” he said. “We hope we’re doing that.”