Lincoln, Neb. —Nebraska 4-H recently recognized Kamryn Wanser, Kennedy Powell, and Brooklynn Nelsen with a Nebraska 4-H Gives Back Award. After seeing their peers struggle with food insecurity, the three Lancaster County 4-H members began working on plans to establish a new Little Free Pantry in their community.
“We are so proud of this team of 4-H’ers who saw a local problem and creatively found a way to a solution,” said Dr. Kathleen Lodl, Nebraska State 4-H Program Administrator.
“It’s this kind of leadership and passion that is critical to their future and the future of Nebraska.”Together, the youth recruited a local business, Healthy Heads, to house the public pantry and worked with a craftsman to design and build the pantry box in their Lincoln neighborhood of Indian Village. They gathered food donations and support from a local HOA, White Electric, Old Glory Farms Boutique, Rotary Club 14, VFW, FoodNet, Little Free Pantries, Lancaster County 4-H Council, and The Fantastic 4 4-H Club. The youth collected $319 and over 1,700 food items to establish their Little Free Pantry.“We believe the pantry will serve the neighbors, those that work in the area as well as our customers,” wrote Healthy Heads staff. “We couldn’t be happier to support this great cause.”“Food insecurity is an issue many Lincoln, Nebraska, residents experience,” said Tracy Anderson, Lancaster County 4-H Extension Educator. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Kamryn, Kennedy, and Brooklynn, there is one Lincoln neighborhood that is experiencing less of it.”An average of 46 items were taken from the pantry weekly over the first 28 weeks. Community members continue to take more items continue each week, and the teens continue to collect donations to keep the pantry stocked for those in need."We have learned that working together we can solve a problem in our community," the teens shared. "We feel confident that this will serve a need in the community for a long time to come.”The Nebraska 4-H Gives Back Award celebrates the spirit of service learning. The program recognizes youth who have made significant and lasting impacts in their community. 4-H members create, coordinate, and implement a service-learning project of lasting impact and significant size or scope.“We invite youth to submit project proposals that showcase the application of their time and talents in service to their community,” says Jill Lingard, Nebraska 4-H Gives Back program coordinator.For more information about the Nebraska 4-H Gives Back Awards program, pleasevisit 4h.unl.edu/ne4h-gives-back.