Community Spotlight: Summer Hunger

“Silence the Growl” for those who experience summer hunger.

When we think of summer, we usually think of fun in the sun, swimming pools, cook-outs and vacations. But for some, this may not be an easy time of the year. People who struggle to get food for their families throughout the year can experience an even more difficult time during the summer months. During the school year, 62,000 students in the metro area qualifying for free or reduced lunches. During the summer, when these supports are not available, families have to find new ways to provide meals. In Nebraska, 1 in 5 children are considered food insecure.


Summer hunger impacts the whole family, putting extra strain on families already struggling to meet their budget. Low income families spend an additional $300 a month for groceries when children are out of school. In the metro area, 20.4 percent of residents “often” or “sometimes” worry about running out of food before there is money to buy more.


People struggling with food insecurity are faced with the choice of putting food on the table or paying for other basic needs such as utilities, rent or medications. Parents and guardians may skip meals to ensure their children have enough to eat, or they may eat less nutritious food because it is less expensive, which increases the risk of diet related diseases. Children who do not have enough to eat generally have poorer health, do worse in school and have higher hospitalization rates.

We asked community experts Chelsea Salifou, CEO of Heartland Hope Mission and Mariel Harding, Community Impact Director at United Way of the Midlands, to share their insights on food insecurity in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area.




Together, we can ensure everyone has enough food in the summer.


During the month of May, UWM is raising funds to “Silence the Growl” and decrease summer hunger in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro. With the help of corporate and individual donors, UWM will continue to invest in healthy food and hunger relief programs and partner with organizations to meet food needs in the community. These programs include:

  • Emergency food pantries
  • Healthy meal programs
  • Community gardens
  • After-school programs that include meals for the students
  • Meal assistance for seniors
 Help “Silence the Growl” for those in need.

Receive a $25 gift card to Flagship Restaurant Group when you make a $45 donation to United Way of the Midlands.

In 2017, with the support of the Iowa West Foundation (IWF), UWM published a report on food security in our community. Building upon this work, UWM secured a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to convene partners across the Omaha-Council Bluffs community to create a comprehensive plan to address food insecurity and improve the nutritional quality of food. For the past year, with the support of the USDA, the IWF and Wells Fargo, more than 40 public, private and nonprofit partners have been meeting to develop goals, strategies and objectives as part of this comprehensive plan. This work bolsters UWM’s ability to invest strategically in food supports across the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area. In 2017, UWM funded programs provided nearly 500,000 healthy meals to people in our community.