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SCC cooking and delivering meals for shut-ins

Michael Mata and Chef Vandenberg prepare meals.
Maggie Hoke delivering meals
Instructor Abby Hoch dicing food.

Southeast Community College is playing its part during the COVID-19 outbreak by giving back to the community. Employees are rallying together and coming up with ways to help, which is how the Community Action Team was created within the College.

“The goal is to come up with ideas and plans for each department to provide services for our communities during the pandemic,” said Mike Vandenberg, executive chef of SCC’s Course Restaurant. “Being the Culinary/Hospitality program, we decided to cook meals and package them to be delivered to people in Lincoln who are greatly impacted by COVID-19.”

Vandenberg, another instructor and a student prepare and package the meals daily at the College. Part of the process in providing health-safe meals is to conduct daily health screens with everyone involved.

Many people in the community have requested the service, which is limited to those who are either in quarantine because of COVID-19 or are unable to leave their home because they are high-risk.

“We are limiting it to 100 meals a day, so each day we deliver four meals to 25 people, so we are providing meals for a total of 100 people each week,” said Vandenberg.

Meals are chosen that are easily microwavable and appeal to a large audience such as lasagna, chili, beef stroganoff, stir fry, and goulash, among others. SCC employees signed up each day to deliver food to the recipients. Randall Loos was surprised to get a knock on his door when he applied for the free service.

 “A guy said the four meals were for me, and that every week going forward I would get a delivery of four meals provided by staff there,” Loos said. “I said thank you for all you do. I about fainted, I’ve never asked for anything.”

Maggie Hoke is an administrative assistant at SCC. As soon as she heard about this venture, she knew she wanted to be involved. She delivers meals and said most people want to talk since they are missing out on socialization.

“I was so happy SCC came up with this idea because I think it’s important people know we are here for them and are doing what we can,” Hoke said. “My first delivery was a person who is wheelchair bound, and she was so happy. My second was for a daughter helping her mom who had fallen, and they were caring for her at their house. The daughter cried when I was leaving. Another couple told me they didn’t know what they were going to do because they couldn’t get to the store.”

“It’s also a good way to show the students that working in the culinary field doesn’t always mean fancy plated banquets and placing garnishes on with tweezers,” Vandenberg said. “At the end of the day, we are in the service industry. And when times are tough, the service industry always steps up to do what we do best: serve people.”

The College is able to provide this service with a $25,000 grant. For more information on this project and others, email the Community Action Team at scccommunityaction@southeast.edu


Andrea Gallagher
Marketing Specialist