UNK athletes lend helping hand in PB&J Food Drive

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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) – Some student athletes at the University of Nebraska at Kearney are using their speed and hand-eye coordination to help the community in a different way.

Student athletes volunteer at UNK’s first PB&J Food Drive to benefit six local food pantries Tuesday. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

The UNK Dining team organized the school’s first ever Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive Tuesday. They partnered with UNK’s Athletics Department to make more than 3,500 PB&J sandwiches for six local food pantries.

“The colder it gets the more the needs go up. The same with coats and mittens, they need more food. We always need more food,” said Kyla Martin, administration/development director for Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska.

To help meet that need, some student athletes traded in their helmets for hair nets.

Around 200 of them volunteered at the school’s PB&J Food Drive. They lined up around a long table to spread the peanut butter and jelly on bread, which was donated by Pan-O-Gold. Sodexo, UNK’s campus dining partner, provided the rest of the ingredients.

“I just think it’s important to serve. We’re kind of blessed to be in the position we’re in so it’s a nice opportunity to give back to the people who don’t have the opportunity that we have,” said Quentin Holley, a UNK football player.

The volunteers sealed the sandwiches up, and put them in boxes that’ll go to each of the local food pantries, which include; Big Blue Cupboard; Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska Food Bank; Crossroads Mission Avenue; Food Recovery Network; Kearney First United Methodist Church Food Pantry at East Lawn and the Kearney Jubilee Center Food Pantry.

UNK’s Dining team organized the food drive in conjunction with World Kindness Day.

“It’s important as just a daily reminder that there are small things that you can do to help brighten somebody’s day, whether it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, whether it’s a simple hello or just a simple helping hand,” said Les Bentz, marketing coordinator for UNK Dining.

The Community Action Food Bank in Kearney will get about 2,600 of the PB&J sandwiches. They’ll distribute them to seniors in North Platte who are low income, families through their WICK program, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start.

“What a simple gift that will mean so much,” Martin said.

People at UNK will distribute the sandwiches Tuesday evening through Thursday. Bentz said they hope to involve the community next year to have an even bigger food drive.