Omaha’s Meals Safety Community
The fence has fallen since COVID-19 hit our city. Distress flooded through the community to find people who never counted themselves among the vulnerable, who were suddenly knocked down by the wave. For years, these programs have performed a Herculean feat of flexibility to ensure their donations are stretched to provide every possible bite to those in need. This month, The Reader reached out to several organizers to discuss the efforts being made to continue serving a community in an unprecedented crisis.
2566 St. Mary’s Ave.
An organization nearing 100 years of service is hard to stumble upon, and Completely Kids has proven no exception. The team has worked tirelessly for years to meet the community’s social, educational, and nutritional needs. They didn’t let anything as trivial as a global pandemic stop them when they were needed most.
Adrielle Griffin has been Chief Marketing and Development Officer at CK since 2012. We caught up with her while she was working from home, out of breath with the nearly adult baby trapped in her chest preparing snacks for her stepson. Even as she travels through the unpredictable final trimester of her pregnancy, she focuses on Completely Kids and prepares the team for the weeks ahead.
“Our last day we could work in the office was March 13th,” she said. “We all thought it would take a couple of weeks, maybe a month. Nobody had expected to work remotely for months, but luckily our team has always been very adaptable. Sometimes the guidelines for how we can serve change daily. We don’t know what the school year will be like, so we’re just preparing to have several answers for our families. “
Completely Kids has not only provided families with educational programs, but also with much-needed nutrition that some families cannot access without the school feeding program.
“At first we were concerned about how to feed ourselves. Traditionally, children are given breakfast and lunch at school, then come to our after-school program for a snack, and then take home a bag of groceries for the weekend. All of a sudden these kids are losing three meals a day and we weren’t sure how to put them in their take away pockets to accommodate this. “
Griffin has glowing words for every employee and the Completely Kids volunteer force, but without hesitation points his finger directly at the Food Bank for the Heartland.
“They occurred right away,” she said. “That first Friday we distributed 200 bags of groceries from the Food Bank for the Heartland. Without them we wouldn’t have made it at all. Soon we saw that number was increasing and we were able to crack a lot of numbers and reorganize a lot of things. Our CEO had conversations with donors who came back immediately and said, “Just let us know what you need, we will always take care of you.” Soon we were able to supplement these 200 bags from the Food Bank with 300 bags of our own. “
Once the initial wave of relief passed, the team began assessing where people might fall through the rifts.
“We were able to fairly quickly identify 34 families with significant needs but who did not have the transportation to get to our distribution centers. We have set up touchless deliveries with some of our volunteers, each specifying a route for 5-7 of these families. “
Griffin understands that all school board decisions about the school days approach are preliminary and depend on containing the virus. Even so, the team has plans to include the proposed 2/3 week of school and schedule “weekend” grocery bags twice a week to catch everyone on the rotating schedule.
“We distribute food in the first week of August. And when we get there, we will continue this evaluation process. “
If you or your family needs resources, visit Completely Kids. If you’d like to donate your time, talent, or treasure to Completely Kids’ many programs, donate now
812 S 24th Street
Together, Omaha supplies an average of 22,000 households each year, supports education, health and wellness and provides affordable housing. Their food and nutrition security program ensures that those affected spend a little less time looking after their families’ food so that this energy can be used to find a workable path to a sustainable life.
When COVID-19 threatened to derail the progress the families had made together, Stephanie Strode and all the staff dug deeper to find a way to keep serving.
“We immediately started prepackaging all of the food as quickly as possible,” she said. “We looked after 200 families every day from start to finish. We all had to pack up and do our regular jobs. We had directors trying to find money to buy more groceries and our crisis managers sagged from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. “
Strode is also quick to highlight the Food Bank for the Heartland for their quick response and constant support.
“We get all of our groceries from the Food Bank for the Heartland. We wouldn’t know what to do without them. The National Guard boxed food for us and set us free to get other supplies. Diapers, can openers, things these families need. “
When the line of cars arriving for collection turns around the block and the police come to direct traffic, Strode could easily be overwhelmed. Instead, she looks at the car in front of her. It is important that every win is crucial as those 200 bags of groceries feed the 212 cars that show up at the end of the day.
“I want us to have a little bit of hope that they know they can always come here. I hope we can get that off her shoulders. “
Visit Donate Now or find out about utilities at http://togetheromaha.org/i-need-help-2/services/.
Food bank for the heartland
10525 J Street
Communication manager Angie Grote wastes no time in thanking the Food Bank partners for their quick action and cooperation with each other and with the families they serve.
“From March 15 to June 20, the Food Bank for the Heartland distributed 11,633,012 meals to Heartland families who were starving. That’s a 61% increase over the same period in 2019. During that period, we spent $ 2.7 million on grocery purchases, an increase of 374% over the previous year. Without our partner organizations like Together, North Star, Completely Kids and Heart Ministries, we would not be able to respond to this crisis. We serve 93 counties in Nebraska and Iowa and are grateful to our partners and the work they do to meet these needs. They all had to tweak their programs to continue to serve, and they all do it so gracefully. “
When asked how best to ask our readers for help, Grote insists they have already done so.
“Not much good can be said about this year, but the only thing we have found valuable is the way the community rose and worked together to make it happen. This is a beautiful community full of people who really care about their neighbors. We just want it to be known that the Food Bank for the Heartland has served this community for 39 years, and we are determined to do all we can to continue to serve each day. “
It encourages readers who need help to visit the website and learn about the many resources that FBftH offers.
If you can help, donate now at https://donate.foodbankheartland.org.