Hot Meals USA feeds thousands of residents

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 9:30 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - One of the biggest Thanksgiving meal events hosted by Kearney Area Concerned Citizens got cancelled because of COVID-19, and Hot Meals USA couldn’t stand by and let thousands of people sit at home without a meal.

“This is why we built this, again we didn’t plan it for a germ but when others can’t, when they’re not able to do what they normally would do, that’s where we fit in,” Hot Meals Founder Richard Cochran said.

Hot Meals feeds hundreds of thousands of people during natural disasters, and when they were approached by several community members to help out, they accepted the challenge.

“The Kearney Area Concerned Citizens, they’d done that for 35 years,” Cochran said. “So it always happens on Thanksgiving. A lot of volunteers come together. They have all year to plan it out. When we found out we had 26 days.”

Cochran called on several members in the community to help.

“We’ve got people from the different housing complexes that have come to help get deliveries made and dished up and just individuals,” Jubilee Center Volunteer Sheri Clerk said. “The community has just come out in force to make sure people get these meals today.”

Hot Meals prepared 3,000 meals to give to residents on Thursday at Mom and Dad’s Bar-B-Que. It took 800 pounds of meat, 55 gallons of green beans and yams, 900 pounds of potatoes, and 40 gallons of gravy to make the meals.

“They’ll get stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, a roll, and a pumpkin pie.”

They handed out meals to people as they drove by in their cars, and they also delivered over 1,000 meals to people’s homes, assisted living homes, and hospitals.

“I think we have 8 or 9 hospitals. We have 130, 150 meals going to different ones, and it’s our way of saying thank you to them,” Cochran said.

When Cochran got the call asking him to this, the first person he thought about was his father-in-law.

“My wife’s dad is in a nursing home. You see them suffering and not understanding, just to be able to have a Thanksgiving,” Cochran said. “It just kind of brings a little normal back to their day.”

“I’ve had the privilege of answering phone calls for three weeks now, and to hear the stories of we can’t meet, we can’t do the tradition, but at-least know I got a Thanksgiving meal coming in, so I can still sit down and count my blessings,” Clerk said.

Hot Meals has been helping people since March, and so far they’ve handed out about 175,000 meals this year.

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