Barnabas Community More Than Just a Food Pantry

I wanted to focus more on local pantries in the Greater Omaha areas but ended up stumbling upon a local food pantry in Lincoln, Ne. When visiting Lincoln, NE, I stayed with a friend that asked if I would like to do some community service. This food pantry is located on 931 Saunders St., right behind the University of Lincoln on 11th and Cornhusker. The Barnabas project began November of 2008 with help from People’s City Mission, Sheridan Lutheran Church, and Spirit of Hope Lutheran Church. The main purpose of this food pantry is to work on the working poor of Lincoln.

According to the Barnabas Website, “The Barnabas Community is a Christian outreach program that offers free clothing, books, toys, some household goods — and hope and hospitality — to our guests. We do not charge for the store’s merchandise or activities in the community center, but first-time shoppers must complete minimal paperwork to be eligible to shop.” The Barnabas community opened in the Belmont shopping center as a joint project of the churches combined involved in the Project.

“At first we were at the shopping center across the street but we realized that it was too cramped of a space to have people going in out and trying to get everything organized,” said Cheryl Stubbendieck, Barnabas Exec. Director.
That’s when they started there move to Saunders Avenue in 2012 where there is about 2400 ft. of more space available making things easier to get things done compared to the 1400 ft. they were dealing with in the beginning.

The Food Net is part of the Barnabas community but actually is owned and ran by someone else. The Food Net is a group of volunteers from many different churches and other non-profit organizations, trying to stop the waste of food and provide for those in need. They provide bread, fruits, vegetables, drinks, desserts, and even some miscellaneous items.

“Most of the food we receive doesn’t sell in stores, so not all of the food may be good but we give them what we can.” Debra, Leader of Food Net.

The Barnabas Community is not also a place to come get clothes but they offer other items such as toys, books, household items, and many other things.
They are allowed to grab 15 items per family, including:
– Maximum of 10 books for family, but can sometimes be more since they have tons of books.
– Maximum of 5 toys per family, including one large/major item.
– Maximum of 5 household items per family, including one large item such as a lam, small appliance, or bedding set.
– Maximum of 1 coat per family.
– Limits for special or seasonal items are posted as needed. For example, football season is in so they have a lot of husker stuff available.
You are not allowed to take too many similar items, so they may have to put so back. But the most important values of the Barnabas Community is sharing and considering the needs of other.

Volunteering is actually a huge part of the Barnabas Community. People from the churches help volunteer their time to help customers go through the lines and get everybody checked in. They make sure people don’t come back and get more stuff because some people will come and take more than they should.

“We had multiple people try and come back to get more stuff when they shouldn’t. So we have to keep tabs on who comes in during the week. We don’t have much stuff so we have to make sure everybody gets something,” said Stubbendieck.

They are currently looking for volunteers to come and help out on the days their open to check in & check out people, sort through clothes, and just make the Barnabas Community run smoothly. They currently only have 2-3 volunteers that show up maybe once a month.

Most of the people that volunteer at the Food Net are people that have low incomes and need help too. At the end of the day, they get to take what’s ever left. Sometimes if they have too many leftovers they send it to another food pantry.

The Barnabas store is open most Saturdays from 9am to 3pm (closed for holidays), and on the first and third Tuesdays and the second and fourth Thursdays from 6 to 8pm. They serve pastries and coffee in the community center and host occasional musical performances and activities.

If you want to find out more information about this organization go to: http://sheridanlutheran.org/missions-giving/local-partners/barnabas/ or http://www.foodnetlincoln.org/

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