Every Monday evening at 5:30 p.m., a colorfully painted school bus pulls up on 29th Street in front of Clinton School. It’s not bringing kids to school, but inviting them to come inside for a delicious, nutritious meal.
It’s the Food Fort—a mobile food distribution ministry started by Michaela and Ben Akridge. The couple moved to Lincoln three years ago, and soon realized that there were some neighborhoods where children may not always have enough to eat.
“We decided to serve children by providing the basic need of food where food is lacking,” Ben explained.
“Our goal is more than just to provide a meal,” Michaela added. “We’re looking to use food as a vehicle to fulfill deeper needs, to be present, to be mentors, to help them with homework and to be a friend. It’s like having a family dinner table inside the bus.”
All the food is free, and it’s open to all children regardless of income. The Food Fort is supported by donations from individuals, small organizations and some churches, Michaela said. “A Food Net site provides fresh fruits and vegetables, and we have a beef supplier providing meat.”
The program has no government support.
Food Fort also stops at Saratoga School, 13th and Saratoga streets, on Wednesday evenings. During the summer, it also added a Tuesday lunch at 29th and Holdrege streets.
“Food Fort is a nonprofit dedicated to serving children in under-resourced neighborhoods,” according to the nonprofit's website. “Our mission is to provide more than just a meal. We seek to provide respect, love, relationships and a constant support system in their lives. Feeding, loving and growing our future.”