Omaha Salvation Army and Food Bank for the Heartland Partner to Offer Free Meals for Kids again this Summer


While their classmates are swimming and enjoying barbecues during summer vacation from school, thousands of Nebraska children are worrying about finding their next meal. The summer months are especially difficult for kids at-risk of hunger and their families. Over 40 percent of children in Nebraska receive free or reduced school lunches, and in some schools, these percentages climb to as high as 80 and 90. These children are seeking other resources for meals when school is out of session.

To combat the epidemic of childhood summer hunger in Nebraska, The Omaha Salvation Army and Food Bank for the Heartland are collaborating again for the Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen program (KCK). In its seventh year, KCK is providing hot, nutritious meals free of charge to the places where children live and play such as parks, libraries and apartment complexes. Children 18 years of age and under are eligible for meals.

Utilizing the organizations’ combined four food trucks, Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen serves lunch at 14 sites in Omaha, Bellevue, Ralston, La Vista, Plattsmouth and Blair. KCK operates May 30 through August 11 during the weekdays. The goal for 2017 is to provide 50,000 meals. Mutual of Omaha employees are donating more than 1,200 volunteer hours to assist in the distribution of the meals.

In addition to the 14 lunch sites, Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen is serving dinner on Tuesday evenings at Heartland Hope Mission and on Wednesday evenings at The Beautiful Gate. KCK is also delivering lunches to nine metro nonprofit organizations where staff members and volunteers will serve them to children in need. A complete listing of KCK locations and distribution times can be found here

In Nebraska, nearly one in five children is considered food insecure. This is a time of year when at-risk children are particularly vulnerable.

“Many of us do not think about hunger during the summer, but it is an especially difficult time for families who are struggling financially,” said Susan Ogborn, president and CEO of Food Bank for the Heartland. “Children are not in school, and parents must factor additional food and child care costs into their budgets that are already stretched thin. Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen is providing critical meals to combat summer hunger for children.”

Funding for Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen comes from the Nebraska Department of Education, Child Hunger Ends Here and from additional private donations including Women Investing in Nebraska (WIN). KCK meals are prepared by Westside Nutrition Services.

Results of a study supported by the Conagra Brands Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Nielsen Company show approximately 18.3 percent, or 85,970 children under 18, in Nebraska is at-risk for hunger. Map the Meal Gap 2017: Child Food Insecurity is a study from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, which provides data on a county level.