Strike Out Hunger is one of the Food Bank’s most successful campaigns. The program—celebrating its 15th year in 2022—focuses on alleviating summer hunger and allows Heartland businesses to compete in a friendly competition to see who can raise the most food, funds, and volunteer hours for the Food Bank.
The original idea didn’t come from a staff member—it came from a group dedicated to making a lasting impact in the community—also known as Leadership Omaha.
“Our small group spent quite a bit of time interviewing different organizations when looking at projects to do,” says Sean Olson, a member of Leadership Omaha, Class 29. He said after meeting with the Food Bank, they knew it would be a great fit and a great time. “We wanted Strike Out Hunger to coincide with the College World Series, because we learned that the summer months were when the Food Bank needed more support from the community.”
Sean and his small group were influential in developing the Strike Out Hunger campaign. It officially kicked off in 2007 with a handful of companies in downtown Omaha. But it was a Food Bank board member who inspired others to swing for the fences.
Tara Stingley, an attorney for Cline Williams— and a member of Leadership Omaha, Class 33—joined the Food Bank Board in 2012. Tara saw parallels between Leadership Omaha and the Food Bank, which motivated her to broaden the campaign. “The great thing about Leadership Omaha is that it pulls in people all over Omaha. It made us really think about how we could expand our reach and make this campaign a community-wide effort to raise funds for the Food Bank during those critical summer months.”
According to the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Strike Out Hunger is the longest running community project to emerge from Leadership Omaha. Sean gives that credit to the Food Bank staff.
“We thought this could fill a gap for the Food Bank and something we could move the needle on, but I didn’t think it would last more than a couple years,” says Sean. “I have to give credit to Brian Barks. He kept thinking outside of the box. Our group may have thought of the idea, but it was the Food Bank that made this program as successful as it has been.”
For companies looking to get involved, Tara believes Strike Out Hunger is the perfect fit. “The reach at the Food Bank is so widespread. It covers 93 counties across the Heartland. Companies can make a lasting impact on such a wide cross section of our state and our region.”
Both agree that now is the perfect time to get involved. “After everything we’ve been through over the last two years, people are looking to give back more, and what better way to do it,” says Sean.
Tara agrees. “As a mom, you think about summer being a real care-free time for children. But when they don’t have consistent, reliable access to food as they would in school, it makes it so hard for families. Strike Out Hunger is such a brilliant idea—and really, there’s no better time to get involved than right now.”