Hometown Fresh Truck bringing meals to food deserts in the area

Food Bank rolls out hometown fresh truck.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:30 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2023 at 10:59 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - For many people living outside of Lincoln, getting their groceries can be a monumental task. The Food Bank of Lincoln is trying to help with that for thousands of people living more than 15 miles away from the closest food source.

Enter the Hometown Fresh Truck.

“It is, is a truck and a pull-behind trailer that will allow our neighbors to comfortably and with dignity,” said Michaella Kumke, the Executive Director. “Walk through this Mobile Food Pantry and make food selections.”

It visits eight different sites about once a month. They are stopping in Thayer, Butler, Nemaha, Pawnee, Jefferson, Otoe, and Seward Counties.

Inspiration for the truck came from serving people in rural areas during the pandemic.

“We were visiting really small towns in our 16 county service area and, and realizing you know how isolating it was at that time for sure,” Kumke said. “But just what the challenges are for folks who live in a small town, Nebraska, to get access to healthy foods.”

The trailer is equipped with shelving, refrigeration, and freezers and is handicap accessible.

The Food Bank said the fresh produce, food, and frozen protein are designed to complement what rural grocery stores may not be able to supply.

“Working with a really small town grocery store owner, they don’t have major buying capacity, like like a big box retail store,” Kumke said. “And so they may have some trouble getting the kind of produce that they want in and keeping it in stock at a reasonable price it’s kind of a check extender for the neighbors in that area.”

This is necessary for people who live in rural Thayer County, where the truck will make two stops.

“A lot of people out in the rural areas, they have to decide, do I want to save on gas and go to a mom-and-pop store and spend $5 on a gallon of milk? Or do I want to put more into my gas drive 120 miles round trip, go to Walmart, and get a gallon of milk for $2.99 sets. Either way, you’re working with the same amount of money, but you’re not getting that much worth, in food,” said Sheena Halverstadt with Southeast Nebraska CASA.

The truck also specifically picks stops where getting to the food will not be a hindrance to the people who need it.

“Public transportation is not existent in the rural areas. So again, do I have the money to drive 20 miles to Hebron to pick up this food and 20 miles back?,” Halverstadt said. “Or do I need to save that so I can get to work? A lot of people out in the rural areas, they drive 60 miles to work that’s not that’s very normal, is to have a 60-mile drive one way to work.”

Right now the truck visits those seven counties but the Food Bank said in the next six to nine months they plan to launch in all 16 counties of their service area.