More than 100 recipients queued up in their cars to receive food at a drive-thru food distribution from the Food Bank of Lincoln at Star City Shores on Oct. 26, in Lincoln.
The Food Bank of Lincoln serves Southeast Nebraska and has multiple food services like the drive-thru food distribution services and produce distribution in rural areas. The food bank has a monthly schedule on its website for daily food distribution locations.
With winter approaching, it’s practical for recipients to drive to a distribution site and stay warm in their cars. Not only is it useful for the recipients but a drive-thru format is efficient for staff and volunteers to distribute food to a huge volume of recipients.
The process of distributing food is a complex one. The food bank receives food from donors and transports it to the distribution warehouse, then to the distributing site, said Arielle Eschbaugh, warehouse distribution center coordinator. The entire process may take about an hour or up to a whole day.
The organization receives food donations from local grocery stores, with Walmart, Costco and Russ’s Market being the current largest donors, Eschbaugh said. She said the stores sign a contract with the food bank through Feeding America to give away food that they don’t use or is close to the end of its shelf life. Feeding America is a nonprofit organization that helps feed and connect people to food banks in the country.
“I look at it as a recycling program,” Eschbaugh said. “Instead of throwing away perfectly good food, we just give it a second life to people who can use it.”
Ciara Dickson, a distribution center assistant, said the food bank decides what food to distribute based on the donations they receive– bread, apples, potatoes, eggs and whole frozen chicken were Tuesday’s items.
Dickson and Eschbaugh worked alongside four volunteers on Tuesday. Dickson said that the volunteers were already at the distribution site when the food truck arrived.
“Most volunteers are recurring, so they already know what to do,” Dickson said. “It’s like their second job.”
David Dzickowski-Cygan has been volunteering at the food bank for eight months. The biggest element of working at a distribution site is to make sure recipients are getting the type of food that they need, Dzickowski-Cygan said.
“If someone doesn’t eat meat, we will give them extra potatoes or anything we got,” Dzickowski-Cygan said.
The food distribution process starts off with Eschbaugh motioning cars up to the distribution point one at a time while the volunteers get an item from the food pile. One of the staff or volunteers asks the recipient how many people are in their household, then everyone starts putting food in the recipient’s car trunk. The last person who puts the food in closes the trunk, and the team repeats the process until the last recipient.
Aside from Lincoln, the food bank serves 16 other counties surrounding Lincoln. The food bank expanded its services at a new facility located by the Lincoln airport to meet the growing demand of people who need food, Eschbaugh said.
“We’ll always be here until the last hungry person is fed,” Eschbaugh said.
The Nebraska News Service is provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications’ Experience Lab. Content is provided by students in college courses and from Experience Lab programs, the Nebraska News Service, Unlimited Sports and Nebraska Nightly.
All content is student-produced. Opinions expressed are not those of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln administration or the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. The College of Journalism and Mass Communications is committed to making its programs and services accessible to all persons. If you have a disability and are experiencing a barrier to access, please share your experience on our Accessiblity Page.