Central City Neighbor Grateful for the Food Bank during times of need

40 Faces of 40 Years Shawna, a Central City resident

Shawna has always been the giving type, but in 2016, this Central City, Nebraska resident and former teacher found herself needing help for the first time after an unexpected injury.

“When I tore my rotator cuff, I didn’t have a clue I would be unemployed a few months later. Shortly after my surgery, I was told they didn’t think I could perform the job. I cried for many days. I didn’t know how I was going to provide for myself or my companion.”

That’s when she heard about the Central City Mobile Pantry and knew she had an important decision to make. “I never thought in my life I would be reaching out to others for help. I’m not the type who needs people to give me things, but I had to grin and bear it. Being in this situation completely changed my mindset.”

While Shawna was able to work throughout the pandemic at a daycare center, she recently lost her job again. During times of need, she says it’s a blessing to have something she can rely on. “I’m looking for jobs and I’ve had a couple interviews but it’s hard. I’m falling behind on my bills so when the mobile pantry comes to town, I’m there.”

During the pandemic, the Food Bank made a change to its mobile distributions, to have volunteers put food directly into vehicles, to ensure social distancing. Shawna appreciates the convenience of this model and says despite being in cars, it still brings the community together. “The mobile distribution is wonderful. Sometimes we get there an hour ahead of time just to see people. We wave to them; we chat with our neighbors. It’s nice to see others. I still feel that sense of community.”

Shawna says the help has inspired her to give back. “If I have enough, I will get items for my neighbors who are struggling, or my sister who’s in a wheelchair. I tell them, ‘I couldn’t use this, but you might be able to.’  If I see someone that needs something, and I can get it for them, it just warms my heart. My bucket gets filled.”

Shawna extends that generosity to other family members struggling in these unprecedented times. Her niece is a single mother of five and though she has a job, it’s not enough. While Shawna used to help her by purchasing food, she now takes her great nieces and nephews to the mobile pantry. “You should see how their face lights up when they get fresh produce. They love fruit and they don’t have it often because it’s so expensive right now. It’s an amazing feeling to help them.”

Shawna says inflation has made hard times even more difficult. “The price of meat has gone up so much, that now it’s become a delicacy. We don’t get to have it very often unless we budget for it ahead of time.”  Though Central City has a grocery store, supply chain issues have affected their inventory. “My great nephew is going to be one in September and finding formula has been hard. If we could switch him to milk that would be great, but a lot of times that’s unavailable, too.”

Shawna has been a resident of Central City, Nebraska for nearly 20 years now. She loves calling this place home, but says the town is feeling the current economic stress. It’s why she’s overcome with emotion when speaking about the Food Bank’s mobile pantry. With tears in her eyes, she says “I just want to thank the Food Bank so much for offering this assistance to those that need it. It’s really helped me and the entire community. If you haven’t tried it, you really should because the mobile pantry is just awesome.”