By Christopher Burbach
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Contact the writer: 402-444-1057
Turkey's not only for Thanksgiving at the Stephen Center in South Omaha.
Gobblers given in November become gifts that keep giving for 52 weeks a year, helping feed the nightly population of about 100 at the center's homeless shelter, and the 64 next door in an addiction treatment program.
Turkey tetrazzini in December. Turkey pot pie in January. Turkey lasagna in February. Turkey caesar salad in July. Turkey-noodle casserole in September. Monthly turkey dinners. Weekly (or more) turkey soup.
"We live on it all year round," said Del Bomberger, who runs the South Omaha shelter. "It's one of our usual food sources, a major source of protein."
Usually by this time of year, donors have delivered 50 turkeys to the Stephen Center, en route to a total of 150 or 200 birds. But by Thursday, a week out from Thanksgiving, only five birds had landed to cool their drumsticks in the center's freezers.
So you can see why Bomberger, who's known in social service circles for not being a "sky-is-falling" kind of guy, has been a little nervous recently walking into the walk-in.
"It would be a real challenge if they did not come in," he said.
Bomberger said high turkey prices and steeper grocery costs in general probably slowed turkey donations this year, along with an economy still tight for many. Earlier this month, whole turkeys sold for $1.20 a pound or more in many Nebraska stores, nearly 30 cents more than in 2010. Last week, the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual Thanksgiving price survey found that a 16-pound turkey would cost Nebraskans about $4 more than in 2010.
But as Thanksgiving approaches, turkey prices, though still higher than in 2010, have declined. In metro Omaha, several supermarkets this week are advertising whole turkeys for 59 to 99 cents a pound, usually with a minimum purchase of $25.
On Friday morning, the Siena-Francis House shelter in Omaha also was low on turkeys for this time of year. They were down to 26, with 20 destined for the shelter's Thanksgiving dinner.
A company's usual, annual donation of about 100 birds had not arrived. But on Friday afternoon, that donation, from Werner Enterprises, rolled up in a semi to the Siena-Francis dock, said Tim Sully, the shelter's development director. On board were 130 turkeys.
Having heard from a reporter of the Stephen Center's concerns, Siena-Francis offered to share.
Leaders at both shelters said they remain appreciative of donors' generosity... Continue reading