We take food for granted. That’s been true for years. Most accepted studies conclude that around 1/3 of all food produced never gets eaten. Transportation, storage infrastructure problems, and wastefulness add-up to over a billion tons of lost food each year throughout the world.
Yes, food is abundant. Farmers have produced enough food globally to feed every person on the planet; however, some are still food insecure. This food insecurity is present in many communities—even Aurora, Nebraska.
We at The Leadership Center have decided to take action in our community. TLC staff have applied to sponsor a Nebraska Department of Education Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP provides funding to non-profit organizations and schools who prepare meals for youth in communities with need. Since several neighborhoods in our hometown of Aurora qualify for the program, TLC sought to become the local sponsor.
I attended a couple of training meetings early this spring. I learned a lot about the program in a short amount of time. Though dealing with government bureaucracy isn’t my favorite activity, I’ve powered through the paperwork and regulatory minutia in order to fund the program during the summer months. We started feeding kids on May 21st—the first Monday following the last day of school. I spent a couple hours of preparation and serving time to feed the one kid who showed up. His parents were both at work. He was on his own for the day. His teacher had told him about the lunch program on the last day of school. I fed him and talked with him for an hour.
On the second day, he showed up again. On day three, nobody showed. On day four, I finally saw new kids (three in total). On Friday of the first week, nineteen kids showed up to eat. I was stoked. We were getting the word out. Now that we’re nearly two weeks into feeding lunches, I’m seeing a good mix of regulars and new faces.
Income data for Aurora and Hamilton County does indicate fairly low hunger levels compared to other Nebraska counties. However, need still exists. I’ve seen it. And, in my experience, it’s best to take care of your own community. We are doing what we can.
Before I sign out, I want to thank a few of special donors:
- Farm Credit Services for the garden tiller grant.
- Nathan & Kara Ronnau for their kind donation.
- The Aurora Mall for donating fruit each week.
- The City of Aurora for allowing us to serve in Streeter Park.
- Prairie Plains Resource Institute for allowing us to serve at the trail head in order to be on program.
For those looking to participate or volunteer, we are serving Monday through Friday from 11:15-12:15. We are currently serving in the Eberly Picnic Shelter at Streeter Park, however to be on program, we will eventually be moving to the trailhead/walking path entry off of McCullough. When this change happens, we’ll have someone at the picnic shelter to tell people. We also serve Friday Supper at The Leadership Center from 5-6 p.m. Meals are free for those 18 and under. 19 and older is $5.00.