With help from a grant, an Omaha dietitian plans to develop culinary workshops at local food banks to help combat food insecurity.
Mary Lynn Kardell was awarded a $20,000 grant from Siggi’s Dairy. The grant is part of the Siggi’s Starters program, which helps support registered dietitians and improve community nutrition.
Kardell, a registered dietitian, has been practicing in Omaha for about 30 years. Her private practice, near 78th and Pacific Streets, helps people improve their relationships with food.
She has seen food insecurity firsthand, especially during the pandemic. She said she has seen people who don’t eat certain foods because of dieting and people who can’t afford to buy food.
When the pandemic started impacting the Omaha area, Kardell began working with local food banks, including Heart Ministry. She saw some patrons who were unsure how to use certain foods, like a bag of beans, in meals.
“Hunger is an innate need,” Kardell said. “Learning how to prepare foods and turning food into nourishing meals isn’t innate.”
With the grant money, Kardell said she plans to partner with local food banks to offer workshops for low-income adults and teens. The workshops will be designed to help people understand how to use some of the basic food items they’re given from distribution sites, as well as how to prep, cook and safely store food items.
“It’s difficult for us to see outside of our eyes and see how someone else lives,” Kardell said. “Food insecurity has such an impact on our physiological health, and that mental piece of not having food available to us and how difficult it is.”
Omaha’s most popular parks