"Hungry for Happiness Council Bluffs"
New food truck and free lunch
Open to the public
12 to 12:30 daily
Located at the Broadway Skatepark
1300 West Broadway, Council Bluffs
There are nine other sites where the Council Bluffs Community School District provides access to free lunch meals, click the link to find out more.
Summer doesn't mean hunger takes time off. Thousands of metro students, who regularly rely on free or reduced lunch during the school year, are still in need during the break.
As part of Summer Food Service Awareness Week, several metro organizations are hitting the street to help make sure no child goes hungry this summer. According to Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap, 1-in-5 children within Pottawattamie County aren't sure where their next meal will come from.
The fight to feed children is now going to the streets.
The “Hungry for Happiness" program will provide free meals for kids in Council Bluffs, made possible by Council Bluffs Community Schools, the Arby’s Foundation and the Iowa West Foundation. With the use of a new food truck, the meals will be provided for free at the Broadway Skatepark.
After a quick morning session of skating, 9-year-old Noah Lewis and his brother’s friend, 18-year-old Chris Mahan worked up an appetite.
Reporter asked, "What’s it like to be hungry?" "Torture," Lewis said. Reporter replied, "What do you mean by torture?" "Like, you are starving and there is nothing to eat and it just makes you hungry.”
“I know there are a lot of kids that come down here that don't really eat, a lot at all in the day, so they come down and they get a chance to eat, it makes them all not as bad as usual," Mahan said.
Organizers said normally they feed 1.4 million meals during the school year, during the summer, not so much but that’s the goal, to boost the number of children who receive a free lunch over the break.
"We don't feed enough kids in the summer compared to what we do in the school year,” Virginia Bechtold, Supervisor of Nutrition Services with Council Bluffs Community Schools said.
There's a lunch in it for the adults too.
"There's a lot of kids, especially in Council Bluffs that I'm sure could go without if they didn't have it,” Rachelle Johnson, Council Bluffs mother of three said. “It's really nice that the Iowa West foundation steps up and kicks in, even for the parents to eat, because that is an extra insensitive for them to come out for the safety of their kids, as opposed to just sending them (down here)."
In Nebraska, 96,700 students don’t know where their next meal will come from. The Salvation Army is fighting to lower that number through the use, once again this year, of the Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen.
College juniors Abby Hughes and Jennie Bosn prepped hot meals Monday morning, later they served them to children across the metro, and it’s their job for the summer.
"It’s really fun, it's kind of weird getting paid for something that seems like volunteering but I really enjoy getting to spend time with the kids and brightening their day by giving them a lunch,” Hughes said.
After loading in the trays, the ladies prepped the Salvation Army’s Kids Cruisin’ truck for deliveries.
"We hear from families that these children would literally have no lunches to eat,” Ericka Smrcka, the Director of Programs with Food Bank for the Heartland said. “We are serving hot meals. Something similar that you would see to a school lunch is what they are getting here through Kids Cruisin' Kitchen."
The service is aimed to help children 18 and younger who normally would receive a free or reduced lunch.
"The kids had schools to go to, now they don't have schools to go to in the summer and this provides them an outlet and a meal," J.J. Kuzma, with the Salvation Army’s Disaster Services said.
"Yeah, it really is great. A lot of the kids, I mean you can tell they really thank you and they appreciate it too, I hope they understand what this means to them," Bosn said.
The Omaha Salvation Army operates six traditional summer meal sites in Greater Omaha, Lincoln, Fremont and Norfolk and - in partnership with Hunger Free Heartland, Food Bank for the Heartland and the Lancaster Public Health Department – nine Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen mobile meal sites in Greater Omaha, Plattsmouth, Lincoln and Norfolk. Traditional sites serve and average of 18,000 meals each summer; over 20,000 meals have been served in just two summers by KCK, according to the Salvation Army.