The Junior League of Omaha has a 101-year history of meeting Omaha’s needs with an enthusiastic, well trained volunteer force. Now, we’re turning that power to address one of Omaha’s most critical and unmet needs – hunger and access to healthy food.
Learn more about our program JLO Kitchen Connections here.
WHY FOCUS ON FOOD?
The unemployment and economic uncertainty of the Coronavirus Pandemic has dramatically worsened food insecurity in our community. Even before the pandemic, the hunger problem was significant:
1 in 6 Nebraska children struggle with hunger (Map the Meal Gap 2019)
Nebraska is 7th in the nation for food insecurity (Food Research and Action Center)
4 in 10 people living below the poverty line in the Omaha Metro worry they may run out of food (The Landscape Omaha)
75% of students in Omaha Public Schools qualify for free or reduced lunch (The Landscape Omaha)
People who struggle with hunger and access to healthy foods also struggle with:
– Behavioral issues
– Obesity and other lifestyle-related health issues
How does the League help? Through our signature program, Kitchen Connections and by supporting food access direct service partners throughout the community.
Kicked off in 2021, Kitchen Connections is an innovative, community-building way to spread the joy of home cooking to young adults aging out of the foster care system. Each quarter, JLO mentors pair up with young adults through Project Everlast. Each month, they meet to:
- Learn a healthy new recipe and nutrition basics
- Cook together in a safe, fun and friendly environment
- Share a meal and create community
At the end of each quarter, young adults receive a complete kitchen kit including pots, pans, dishes, utensils, food storage, and some small appliances so they can continue putting their new healthy cooking skills to good use!
Because most of the young adults who participate have children to are for, JLO also provides childcare volunteer during Kitchen Connection sessions.
SUPPORTING OUR PARTNERS
Fortunately, Omaha has many organizations doing outstanding work to alleviate hunger and provide access to healthy foods. We’re putting our volunteer power behind these community organizations to help grow, harvest and distribute healthy food, and most importantly, provide critical education about nutrition and cooking to the most at-risk populations.
Our community partners include:
– The Heart Ministry Center
– The Abundance Garden at the Union for Contemporary Art
– The Big Garden
– No More Empty Pots
– Together Omaha
– The Intercultural Senior Center
In partnership with these organizations, the League is able to amplify their impact, while building out new support and education programs that we are uniquely qualified to tackle.
HOW THE LEAGUE SELECTED HUNGER
In 2018, the League undertook an in-depth study of the Omaha community and where impact was most needed. Working with an array of community partners and direct service organizations, the League identified three critical areas – Opportunity Youth, Prevention of the Abuse of Women & Children and Hunger & Access to Healthy Food.
During the 2019-2020 League year, our membership spent thousands of collective hours engaging in service learning. These deep dives into the three focus areas allowed members to gain a deeper understanding of the needs in the community. League members provided feedback on their service learning through surveys. Survey results showed the area of hunger and access to healthy food as what League members felt most passionate about.
To learn more about the League’s efforts to alleviate hunger and improve access to healthy food in the Omaha Metro, email firstname.lastname@example.org.