Food trucks (restaurants on wheels) are all the rage, and Lincoln has a variety of them. But some food trucks in the city are offering more than food – they’re offering better health.
Often families feel forced to resort to low-cost, unhealthy fast foods to feed their children, creating a greater risk of childhood obesity and the chronic associated diseases. But Lincoln is addressing the need for healthier options, distributing not only food, but hope from these good neighbors on wheels:
The Food Fort of Lincoln is a nonprofit started by Ben and Michaela Akridge as a way to serve children. Says Michaela, “We wanted to provide not only basic nutrition for kids in need, but also a team of safe constants in their lives – to live life alongside them, even if it’s just a few hours a week."
They are currently focused on serving three target neighborhoods in Lincoln: 29th and Holdrege streets on Mondays at 5:30 p.m., North Chester Street and West Dawes Avenue on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m., and 13th and Saratoga streets on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Before bringing their refurbished school bus into each of these neighborhoods, the Akridges circulated flyers to homes multiple times to introduce themselves and their mission, meeting with residents to explain their presence.
The Akridges and their volunteers are as much mentors as they are food distributors. They help kids with homework, provide an attentive ear, and offer support and encouragement. But they also take the opportunity to ensure kids are getting healthy food, including providing a free seasonal produce market at each station. The “Giving Garden,” as it’s called, provides not only fresh produce but nutrition education and how-to healthy eating recipes. Learn more about the Food Fort at lincolnfoodfort.com.
Lincoln Fresh, the joint project of the Lincoln Food Bank, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties, and the Community Health Endowment of Lincoln is, as their truck proclaims, “Where healthy is free.” Launched this year, Lincoln Fresh, operated by the Food Bank, offers free fresh produce in high-need neighborhoods where the cost of such produce often means living without it for the most part. As much as 3,000 lbs. of fresh produce gets delivered each week.
The Lincoln Fresh mobile produce van operates in addition to the Food Bank’s Summer Food Service Program, providing nutritious lunches for children at 32 sites around the city. For a list of Lincoln Fresh locations and times, or of Summer Food Service sites, visit lincolnfoodbank.org.
Community Crops Veggie Van - A veteran of the mobile farmers' market movement, the Veggie Van started taking produce to locations in the center of the city, sometimes referred to as “food deserts” because grocery stores offering fresh fruits and vegetables were often a long bus ride away and the cost was prohibitive. Community Crops, a nonprofit that promotes urban agriculture, community gardens and small farmer training, offers locally grown produce at reasonable prices. The Veggie Van makes it affordable for lower-income families by accepting SNAP EBT cards. Find a list of locations and dates at communitycrops.org.
To learn more, watch the “Health and the City June Playlist" on the LNKTVHealth YouTube channel, or visit lnktv.lincoln.ne.gov for all things health and wellness, including a calendar of events.
Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (HealthyLincoln.org) and LNKTV Health (LNKTVhealth.lincoln.ne.gov) bring you Health and the City, a monthly column that examines relevant community health issues and spotlights local organizations that impact community wellness. Direct questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org