Bringing the Community Together To Address Food Insecurity

Across our community, United Way partner agencies worked harder than ever to meet growing need in 2020. Last year, 6,069,222 pounds of food were distributed by United Way funded partners.

Many of our community members never anticipated finding themselves in a position to ask for help. One such guest at Community Action’s Gathering Place, a program of United Way’s partner agency Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties, said that receiving dinner each night guaranteed they would have one quality meal every day. “This way,” they said, “I can keep up with the bills while I’m on unemployment.”

Food insecurity also affected our younger community members. When brothers Danny and Trevor learned about the CEDARS Youth Opportunity Center, which serves youth experiencing homelessness or who are in need, they walked in to seek assistance with food for their younger siblings and grandmother, whose disability check was not enough to provide for the entire family. Thanks to community support through United Way, the brothers received weekly food boxes as well as additional support and connection to services for themselves and their family.

Food insecurity also affected Lincoln residents who could not leave their homes. After accessing a mobile food distribution through the Food Bank of Lincoln, one of United Way’s partner agencies, Patrick told staff that he picks up food for a few relatives who are not able to leave their houses. In June 2020, the Food Bank of Lincoln distributed a record 1,440,154 meals to hungry neighbors throughout its 16-county service area. That represents a 49% increase over the 961,533 meals distributed in June 2019.

For those in our community who don’t have relatives or friends like Patrick, United Way’s Ride United: Last Mile Delivery helped fill that gap. In 2020, Ride United — which previously provided only transportation access support— expanded to support deliveries of food and essential items in response to the pandemic, forming the Last Mile Delivery service. Using Dashers employed by DoorDash, Ride United Last Mile Delivery (RULMD) provides a safe and socially distanced way to get food to households in need; and relieve stress and lines at food pantries. Through RULMD, the Lincoln Veteran’s Administration homeless program identified and started services for three veterans in the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program.

Lincoln is one of 20 communities across the country to participate in this program.