Long lines for free Thanksgiving meal kits in South Omaha

300 families walked away with free kits for the holiday
Hundreds of free meal kits were given to people in need
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 5:27 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Families who can are buying their Thanksgiving food. Some of those who can’t, still won’t go without.

Thanks to Catholic Charities and donations from the community, a few hundred people got a free Thanksgiving meal kit Monday.

It included not only a turkey, but everything you need to make mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes. The kit also had produce and dinner rolls.

“We try to help people who are struggling have that joy when they are visiting with their families for Thanksgiving as well,” said Dave Vankat, the chief community engagement officer for Catholic Charities.

After a year of struggling with unemployment, John Smith now works in construction. Still, this free Thanksgiving food eases the burden.

“It’s been terrible, no work, no nothing,” said Smith, who lives in South Omaha. “You gotta choose between bills or food. And this place is a lifeline because if it wasn’t for them, we’d be up a poopy creek without a paddle.”

Smith left with two meal kits, one for himself and one for his girlfriend’s family.

Together, they have 16 mouths to feed.

“Without some help, it’s just impossible to feed who you need to feed...this is just subsidizing what I will provide for my family.”

Smith wheeled home with his kits in a baby stroller. Although, most others rolled away in their car.

At one point, cars lined the four sides between S. 30th and 31st Streets and Q and R Streets. The distribution was at the Juan Diego Center on S. 31st Street.

Anyone who goes to the food bank there or heard about the giveaway just needed a paper form filled out with basic information to get a kit.

The wait, worth it: more than $50 per kit in goods.

This act of kindness by Catholic Charities was made possible by the generosity of other parishes and local businesses.

“All of the food is donated that we are then able to pass on to the families that are coming to us for help,” said Vankat.