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Organizations in KC work to bring families healthy meals, time together this holiday season

Operation Breakthrough meal distribution
Posted at 1:19 PM, Dec 01, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Not everyone has access to nutritious meals during the holidays, which is why efforts in Kansas City are so high to get healthy meals on the table.

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Although, research shows that family time during meals is just as crucial to our health and happiness.

According to the Family Dinner Project, sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, brain and health of all family members.

So now, people in Kansas City are working to make sure every family gets both.

Operation Breakthrough and Pete’s Garden are empowering families in Kansas City through healthy meals and family time.

“The holidays are really important. It brings families closer together,” Michell Jones, the Operation Breakthrough donation specialist, said. “Looking back 13 years ago and looking to where I’m at now I’m like, wow. I’m thankful to be here.”

She remembers what it was like to count meals for her and her three daughters. At one point, she said food stamps were all she had.

“I’ve been where half of these families have been,” she said.

It’s why partnering with Pete’s Garden has changed so much for Operation Breakthrough. Pete’s Garden is a nonprofit that receives surplus food from big names, ranging from local restaurants to the Chiefs, and redistributes it to organizations serving families in need.

This partnership allows Pete’s Garden to donate 600 portions of fresh meals to Operation Breakthrough families every week. Meals include meat, fish, vegetables and more.

“For many of our families, that Pete’s Garden portion they get each week is their primary source of protein,” Operation Breakthrough CEO Mary Esselman said. “Especially around the holidays, we know how important it is to have families and family time because families can just take home that full meal.”

For Jones, these meals are more than just food.

“When I woke up this morning, (my daughters) had a card for me, and it made me feel really good because you never know what kids are going through. But, they made me the most beautiful card, and it was the same stuff they said to me on Thanksgiving,” Jones said.