Cozad Volunteer Goes Above and Beyond to Fight Hunger in his Community

40 Faces of 40 Years Claude Berreckman

Claude Berreckman—an attorney and life-long resident of Cozad, Nebraska—is a steadfast volunteer for his local food pantry and financially supports Food Bank for the Heartland. But until recently, he had no idea these two nonprofits—nearly 250 miles apart—worked together.

“My first involvement with the Food Bank came from making monetary gifts early in the pandemic. My wife and I knew food insecurity was a tremendous issue and we wanted to help. Shortly after, I started volunteering at the Cozad Haymaker Grand Generation Center to hand out food. At the time, I had no idea where the food was coming from or that the Food Bank was even involved.”

Claude says after witnessing the need first-hand, he wanted to do more. He went to the pantry’s Executive Director to help assist with food costs. He learned the Cozad pantry doesn’t purchase the food—it comes from Food Bank for the Heartland and other providers.

“Then it really hit me. Not only is the Food Bank making a difference in Omaha—they’re helping across the Heartland—including Cozad in rural Nebraska. That’s when I increased my gifts and started making stock donations.”

Food Bank for the Heartland stretches those donations to purchase and distribute nutritious food across Nebraska and western Iowa, and Claude feels compelled to keep helping his community.

“To me, it’s just a matter of paying it forward. I have people in my family who have put me in the position I’m in, and I can’t pay them back—they’re gone. That’s why I’m paying it forward to those who need it most.”

Claude loves working at the pantry each month. Not only does it allow him to see new and old friends, it’s an opportunity to spread kindness in a world that so desperately needs it.

“It’s important for me to be a good role model to people, so we can all help each other. You don’t just walk into this world knowing how to be kind. I learned it from those who raised me—parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers. And I want to teach that kindness to others.”

While many around Cozad are grateful for Claude and his kindness, he says the feeling is mutual, “I am so grateful for this community and the people here. I owe a lot to Cozad and I’m going to keep doing this as long as I can.”