Food Bank of Lincoln

  • In Southeast Nebraska, nearly 20,000 children live in households where people have to skip meals or eat less in order to make ends meet.
  • In 2012, the Food Bank distributed 126,910 backpacks containing 562,320 meals.
  • Last year, the Food Bank gathered nearly 10 million pounds of food.

The Food Bank of Lincoln’s BackPack Program—currently celebrating its 10th anniversary—provides grocery-filled backpacks to students in need of food over the weekend. Each week, the Food Bank sends over 3,000 backpacks home with students in 35 Lincoln schools and 39 rural communities.

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“We all know that hungry kids can’t learn and that we see hunger as an obstacle to learning,” said Sue Dutton, a Lincoln Public Schools social worker. “In years past, teachers had no option to help students. Now when kids come and say they’re hungry, we can say we’ll get you down to the food pantry or I can go and pick up the food for you and bring it to my classroom. We as a school district are so proud that we are able to help and that we have such a caring and supporting community.”

In addition to the BackPack Program, the Food Bank assists Nebraskans in need of food and household goods in several other ways. One of its most enduring programs is a fleet of mobile pantries that serve more than 1,300 Lincoln families each week. Similar distributions in rural communities throughout Southeast Nebraska provide food to several hundred additional families.

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The Food Bank also introduced a Housewarming Project in 2005. This initiative invites men and women moving out of shelters into their own households to “shop” at the Food Bank for groceries and household essentials. Additionally, the SNAP Outreach Program at the Food Bank provides food stamp information and application assistance, as another means of providing meals to the community's most vulnerable individuals and families.

The Cooper Foundation has given two grants totaling $50,000 toward the BackPack Program. Our support for the Food Bank goes back three decades, to when the Foundation played a crucial role in the creation of the organization. Former program officer Peg Huff learned about food banks while visiting Second Harvest in Phoenix in the early 1980s. Peg was inspired by Second Harvest’s mission of repurposing large quantities of “waste” food, and upon her return to Lincoln she discussed it with E.N. “Jack” Thompson, then president of the Cooper Foundation. Jack pulled together others in the community who were interested in starting a food bank in Lincoln. The Foundation hired consultant Robert Troyer to organize the effort; he became the Food Bank’s first director in 1982. The founding board was chaired by Rich Bailey and included Lola Allen, Mary Arth, Rex Bevins, Sam Davidson, John Frey, A.T. Hinds, Peg Huff, Sr. Phyllis Hunhoff, Pam Hunzeker, Stephanie Maser, Dave Parker, Mike Seacrest, Harry Seward III, Jack Thompson, Orrin Wilson, and Otis Young. Peg later served as board chair.

We take great pride in those early efforts that helped establish the Food Bank of Lincoln, and in our long history of support as it developed into the vital community resource it is today.

One of the Food Bank's greatest resources is its volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Cheri Lawrence at (402) 466-8170 X 106 or clawrence@lincolnfoodbank.org.