FREMONT, NE — Derek Mathis makes gourmet food, usually sold for catering orders or the Hy-Vee dining room.
For the last week he’s been making the same first-class grub for hundreds of people stuck in shelters, people who haven’t had to pay a dime for a meal.
“Every three hours or so we are pumping out anywhere from 400 to 700 peoples-worth of food,” Mathis said. “The Red Cross is working with us… they give us a number of how many people are stranded and need our assistance.”
Mathis works for the Hy-Vee in Fremont – a town struck by disastrous flooding. Evacuated residents have stayed at shelters since Friday waiting for waters to recede. Many have now gone home to flooded basements… and refrigerators empty or stocked with old food. Three shelters remained open Wednesday – and these shelters weren’t serving mere hot dogs and chips.
“They already were losing their homes,” Mathis said. “They’re already flooding – already in disaster – we want to make sure they got the best quality meals.”
Who’s footing the bill for all this? Hy-Vee in conjunction with the Red Cross. Hy-Vee also sent semis full of supplies to Fremont as part of a convoy that penetrated the isolated city on Sunday night.
The efforts by Mathis, his team and Hy-Vee exemplify what’s become the mantra of Nebraska in the last week: neighbors helping neighbors.
“I’m just getting the satisfaction that these people are going to be OK and get through to the end of the day and that our town is going to be alright in the end,” Mathis said.