Incoming Food Bank of Lincoln President and CEO Says Challenges, Growth Ahead

April 7, 2021, 3:31 p.m. ·


Listen To This Story

The incoming head of the Food Bank of Lincoln, Michaella Kumke, says the pandemic has changed how the organization does its work and there are significant challenges ahead.

To say the last year has been a challenge for the Food Bank of Lincoln would be an understatement. Since March 1st of last year, it has distributed 4.2 million more pounds of food than it did over the same period last year, a 45% increase.

Kumke takes over as president and CEO May 1st. She said the past year has helped the organization focus on its core mission amid a health crisis.

“Our mission, to alleviate hunger in southeast Nebraska, is not going to change,” Kumke said. “How we approach that might start to look a little bit different. And this is something that our staff has been working on and our board, to make these important adjustments. We know that the systemic causes of poverty really need some deeper attention.”

Longtime CEO Scott Young is set to retire after almost two decades at the Food Bank of Lincoln and Kumke knows his leadership and guidance will be missed. But she’s confident the organization is in a good position to move forward.

“Our staff is committed, that’s the thing,” she said. “The operations, we’re not a perfectly well-oiled machine, but there’s plenty of grease.”

Kumke has helped lead a fundraising effort for a new facility in northwest Lincoln near the airport, a building that should be ready in about a year.

“We feel like the access to major roadways will get food out faster. The facility will be larger, our freezer and cooler space will more than double and that’s going to help us get healthier food options to neighbors we serve,” Kumke said.

The Food Bank of Lincoln has 28 full-time and 4 part-time employees. Kumke said community giving and engagement has actually increased during the pandemic, something she hopes continues as the organization moves forward.