Food Bank of the Heartland allowed to provide meals to needy families this summer

Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 12:44 PM CDT
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Food Bank of the Heartland has been approved by the Nebraska Department of Education to participate in the federal summer food service program.

Food Bank officials said the federal funds will provide some relief to the Food Bank as they help families serve meals to at-risk children during the coronavirus crisis.

The threat of coronavirus has shut down schools, and that means students are eating every meal at home.

Their parents are lining up at the Hope Center to pick up food filling a void the schools left when they were forced to close. The mobile backpack program, available at

, is designed to add to area school district programs to feed children.

“A lot of people don’t have the food they’re supposed to have and, like me — we living on a budget, a tight budget,” said Albert Smith of Omaha. “And it helps me out a lot ‘cause I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to cook.”

Food Bank of the Heartland is working with schools in the Omaha-metro area and in Council Bluffs to provide meals to children while schools are closed. Including the 13 Food Bank sites, there are 50 sites in total serving Metro area schoolchildren.

In order to comply with federal requirements, starting today, all 50 of the drive-up mobile sites will require children to be present to receive meals; and only the number of children present will be served.

Paul Lanphier, director of the Hope Center, said kids from the community have come here for years for after-school activities.

Jakobe Smith of Omaha sees the center as many things.

“A place of refuge, a place to come have fun, and learn new things,” Smith said. “A place to be a place to learn to become a new person.”

But with the crowd restrictions caused by the threat of the virus, the Hope Center had to find a different way to help.

“We’re assigning every one of our team members different kids and different families to reach out to,” Lanphier said. “I know several of us have taken meals to families just out of need — they’ve reached out to us.”

There is a need in the community, and there are volunteers ready to help to distribute the food.

“We don’t want the kids to miss out on a meal, so we decided as a community to give back,” said Pastor Ronald Smith of Mission Church.

There are also people here from the business community helping out everyone working together for a common cause during a crisis.

“With the concern and the anxiety this pandemic is creating… it’s just giving us opportunity to get outside of our fear and concern and the energy we’re placing on the pandemic, and just giving time and energy away to something we feel strongly about supporting,” said Bret Cain of Percipio Partners.

South Pike School District to serve curb-side meals

The South Pike School District Child Nutrition Program will be serving grab and go meals to all children up to 18-years-old including those who do not attend the district.

Meals will be served at Eva Gordon Lower and Upper Elementary at 1147 N. Clark Street Magnolia, MS 39648.

They will be distributed Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.