Omaha’s ‘Shine the Light on Hunger’ campaign a success, but need still there

The Food Bank for the Heartland raised more than 12 million meals.
The Food Bank for the Heartland has released how many meals were raised in its Shine the Light on Hunger campaign last holiday season.
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:47 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s all smiles this year for Shine the Light on Hunger. The campaign raised more than $3 million, more than quadrupling its goal. That translates to more than 12 million meals sent out this year.

“The need is still out there, and this campaign, what they do, the amount of money they raised is so good for the community,” Mayor Jean Stothert said.

Volunteers have an assembly line going at Food Bank for the Heartland. The food here supports up to 600 pantries in Nebraska and western Iowa. It will help feed almost two million people this year.

“Just because we raised enough food and funds for 12.4 million people this year doesn’t mean we get to close our doors and call everything good,” said Brian Barks, president and CEO of the Food Bank for the Heartland. “The work still needs to be done. We’re facing a hunger situation we’ve never seen before.”

Inflation and high prices at the supermarket, especially for protein, produce and dairy, is affecting how much food moves through this assembly line.

“What’s also increasing costs is the freight cost to get the product here,” Barks said. “That’s gone up just as much, if not more, than the price of food.”

This year’s Shine the Light on Hunger campaign was a huge success, but the need doesn’t stop when the holidays come to an end.

“When you think about it, if somebody’s going to need food assistance around Thanksgiving or Christmas, chances are good they’re going to need it too in July and August.

It’s important that the holiday season spirit of giving continues year-round to keep donations coming in, and to keep volunteers working to get food out to where it’s needed.

Food Bank for the Heartland officials told 6 News they are serving 40% more people than when the pandemic hit and the need for food assistance exploded.