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Community Collaboration Ensures Food Security  

Community Collaboration Ensures Food Security  

Kearney, Neb. –  Hot Meals USA has provided a free hot lunch to Buffalo County residents during the Covid-19 pandemic; they have been serving 1500 meals daily.  They celebrated serving the 100,000th  hot meal on Friday May 29.

As local Covid-19 Directed Health Measures (DHM) change and residents go back to work, a transition plan was needed to support re-opening efforts in the community. A collaboration of food assistance funders and programs met and developed a transition plan to support residents while stepping back from emergency food service provided through Hot Meals USA. The collaborative is announcing that Hot Meals USA will be closing their food trailer after the last meal has been served on Saturday, June 6.

Starting Monday, June 8 the Peterson Senior Activity Center will begin serving curbside meals.

Peterson Senior Activity Center – sponsored by Community Action Partnership of Mid NE and City of Kearney and South Central Area Agency on Aging

    • Monday through Friday, curbside meal pickup, starting Monday, June 8
    • 24-hour advance reservations required by calling (308) 233-3278
    • Adults age 60 and over, there is a suggested donation of $4.50 per meal
    • Adults under 60 years of age, a payment of $6.00 per meal is required
    • Accepting checks and cash (exact amount) and pre-paid punch cards
    • Meals may be reserved by the day, week or month

Additionally, these organizations and funders are coming together to promote food security and are currently available. The collaborative recommends residents to plan ahead for this transition by calling to find resources to meet their unique needs.

“A collective approach is necessary when a community begins to transition from a crisis plan. These amazing organizations work to ensure we have a safety plan in place to support our residents and feed our community every day. Our community is learning every minute about what works, what needs tweaked and what leads to innovation for us in this new pandemic world.” stated, Denise Zwiener, Executive Director, Buffalo County Community Partner and facilitator of the collaborative.

Kearney Meals on Wheels – sponsored by Kearney Housing Agency (KHA)

  • Monday through Friday, meals delivered to home bound
  • Call to determine meal qualifications (308) 234-3000
  • Cost – $5.77 per meal, accepting checks and cash
  • There may be financial assistance for home delivered meals, or if you are home bound  and need meals delivered, please contact South Central Nebraska Area Agency on Aging by calling (308) 234-1851 to discuss options; regardless of age. Or contact your assigned DHHS case worker.

Kearney Public Schools – Summer Lunch Program

  • Serving “Grab and Go” Breakfast and Lunch from Bryant, Central and Emerson Elementary schools
  • Monday through Friday from 11:00 to 12:30.
  • Children must be present to receive the meals.  If an adult with a child present wants to purchase meals, the cost will be $2.50 for breakfast and $3.50 for lunch for a total of $6.00.
  • Accepting checks or cash for exact amount only.

 Rural Community Resources


  • School lunch program is serving free grab and go lunches Monday through Friday for children 1-18 years of age.   Call the school kitchen at 308-826-3131 to request a meal.


  • Gibbon school is providing meals Monday provide 2 meals, Wednesday 2 meals, Friday-1 meal until July 31st from 11:30am-12pm for Gibbon residents under 18 providing free lunches. Location at 1030 Court St Gibbon, NE 68840 (backside of the building)

  • Gibbon Little Free Pantry Accessible 24 hrs./day — 705 Court St. Gibbon, NE 68840, (308) 468-5323
  • Food Pantry – Gibbon Faith United Church Tuesdays & Thursdays: 6:30pm – 8pm, Head Start Basement 1021 First St. Gibbon.  (308) 468-5521    Pastor Mike


  • Ravenna Love in Action Food Pantry Tuesday-Friday: 9:30am-3:30pm—502 Grand Ave Ravenna, NE 68869, (308)452-4361
  • Ravenna Senior Center – take- out meals and home delivery for individuals 60 or a spouse of  someone who is eligible. Contact Roberta at 308-452-3105. Reservations need 24 hours in advance. Meal service is Monday –Friday and the suggested contribution is $5.50 and for under 60 (ineligible) $7.00.


  • School lunches for anyone 18 years old or younger at no cost till June 26.  No family meals are offered. No breakfast or dinner meals at this time.
  • Hot meals are picked up between 11:30 and noon at school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Bagged lunches for Tuesdays and Thursdays are given at the same time with their Monday and Wednesday lunches.
  • To receive the free lunches, they have to contact Sue Bombeck, the head of the lunch program.
  • The Shelton Methodist Church offers a backpack program during the school year.
  • Food Pantry at the Shelton United Methodist Church Tues.-Fri. 8am-1pm, and Tuesday 5:30-7:00 pm.  Located at 207 A St.   Phone is (308) 230-0822 Pastor Carla or (308) 647-6741 Amanda

Contact your local school district for information if you live in Elm Creek or Pleasanton.

Food Pantries

East Lawn Ministries Tuesdays & Thursdays 4pm-6pm — East Lawn Trailer Court 2900 Grand Ave #342 Kearney, NE 68847, Pete Ludowese, (308) 293-0100

Faith United Methodist Church Pantry – Currently Closed

Helping Hands 2-4pm Every 2nd Sunday of the month If you need food during the rest of the month (Call First) — 1724 1st Ave Kearney, NE 68847, (308) 627-4859 Mary Lyons

Hope Evangelical Free Church Mon.-Fri. 1-5pm located at 907 C Ave Kearney, (308)234-4673 Open for attendees of Hope church

Kearney eFree Storehouse By appointment only — 4010 7th Ave Kearney, NE 68845, (308) 455-3302, Justine Tschetter

Kearney Jubilee Center Monday: 1pm–5pm Tuesday: 9am–1pm Wednesday: 1pm–5pm Thursday: CLOSED Friday: 1pm-5pm Saturday: 10am-2pm — 2523 Ave A Kearney, NE 68847 (308) 234-3880, Cheri Clark   (Jubilee Center will be moving soon, call for information)

Little Free Pantries Accessible 24hrs/day, 1623 Central Ave Kearney, NE 68847 (Behind Faith United Methodist Church) and110 W. 24th St. Kearney, NE 68847 (Behind 24 Hour Tees), (308)-237-2550 Erin Davis or Shannan Kramer

Prince of Peace Church – Currently Closed

The Salvation Army Thrift Store Building Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm– 1719 Central Ave Kearney, NE 68847, Lisa Lieth,  (308) 236-5812

UNK Big Blue Cupboard Monday-Friday: 7am-7pm Saturday-Sunday: 11:30am-7pm — UNK Nebraska Student Union Office of Student Diversity & Inclusion 1013 W 27th St. Kearney, NE 68849, (308) 865-8127, open this summer for UNK Students.

Mail Order Meals

              Home Style Direct

  • Order meals delivered to your door, direct pay or Medicaid eligible

              Mom’s Meals

  • Order meals delivered to your door, direct pay or Medicaid/Medicare eligible

Financial assistance for meals may be available by calling South Central Area Agency on Aging (308) 234-1851

Farmer’s Market

  • Kearney Farmers Market – Saturday 8am – 1pm, Wednesday, 2-6pm; located at Kearney Hilltop Mall Parking lot
  • Senior vouchers available for Farmer’s Market produce, contact Sue Hutsell, South Central Area Agency on Aging (308) 234-1851
  • Ravenna Farmers Market—Will open up June 5th. Open Fridays from 5-7 Downtown Area (in front of True Value Store) (308)430-5481

Food Security

  • If you are unable to find a meal program that fits your individual or family need, please contact Erin Davis (308) 234-1851 at South Central Area Agency on Aging to see if you qualify for other food assistance programs in the community.  If you are home bound and need a meal delivered to your home, contact Erin (308) 234-1851 to be connected with a Helping Hands volunteer.

Local Funders and Food Assistance Partners are Buffalo County Churches, City of Kearney, Community Action Partnership of Mid Nebraska, Hot Meals USA, Jubilee Center, Kearney Housing Agency, Kearney Area Community Foundation, Kearney Public Schools, South Central Area Agency on Aging, Area Schools and Food Pantries, Buffalo County Community Response.

Buffalo County Community Partners is a non-profit organization that seeks to assess, strengthen, and promote the health of Buffalo County through the promotion of the Buffalo County 2020 Vision. The 2020 Vision introduces community targets for attainment by the year 2020. For more information on how you can assist in building a healthier Buffalo County, visit

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