Kearney, Neb. — With its motto “Feeding in times of disaster,” Kearney-based Hot Meals USA is now on standby with a newly equipped trailer and vehicle to increase its capacity to bring food to areas in need. Thanks to the support of local sponsors and service organizations, the new mobile Hot Meals USA unit will be dedicated at a special event on Monday, Aug. 12.
Hosted by Kearney’s noon Rotary club, the public is welcome to hear about and see the new Rapid Response Trailer and learn about the impact it has already had on victims of the spring Midwest flooding. The luncheon event, in conjunction with Kearney Noon Rotary’s regular meeting, will be at St. James Church in Kearney, 3801 Avenue A. All are welcome for lunch. A free-will offering will be accepted.
“With the support of so many in the Kearney community, we now have the equipment and people to feed thousands, regardless of the conditions on the ground,” said board member and organization founder Dick Cochran. “This mobile unit has its own power, coolers, ovens and grills. We are providing real meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – along with coffee, tea and ice cream, to those impacted by disaster, all over the country. If you don’t think ice cream is important, you’ve never handed a child an ice cream cone and watched the reaction.”
Cochran, of Kearney, initiated the project in 2017 to feed communities affected by fires, tornadoes, flood and other disasters. Since inception, the trailer has traveled to Hamburg, Iowa; Dannebrog, Wood River, Gibbon, Amherst, Pleasanton, Elm Creek and Ravenna. Since the March floods has served over 6,100 – including 4,170 since July 9 with numerous meals in Kearney. The trailer is outfitted with equipment funded by a $75,000 grant from Rotary District 5630 in Nebraska, District 6780 in Tennessee and other clubs from around the world. Area service organizations including the Knights of Columbus and Kiwanis clubs and other volunteers have helped cook and serve food.
The trailer is important to respond immediately to disasters near and far, but what’s also important are the volunteers and food donations – many coming from area businesses.
On hand on Aug. 12 for the dedication will be Ron Appuhn and Karen Wentz, representing Pigeon Forge Rotary Club in Tennessee, who obtained a Rotary District Grant for the project. The event also will be a Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting.
Anyone seeking information about volunteering or donating to Hot Meals USA can visit hotmealsusa.com, or to call 308-440-7836, especially if you are in a community in need of hot meals.