Hot Meals USA and Rotary

Dick Cochran, founder of Hot Meals USA, points to names of Rotary Clubs worldwide that have contributed to the effort. That includes clubs in India, Argentina, Kansas, Colorado and Tennessee as well as Nebraska.

KEARNEY — Few people in India have heard of Nebraska, but that hasn’t stopped Rotarians in Bangalore, India, from donating $6,000 to Hot Meals USA.

Sri Seshadri, a marketing professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a member of Kearney’s Dawn Rotary Club, is a native of Bangalore. When he went home this summer, he briefed Rotary clubs in Bangalore about Rotary projects here.

When he told them about the Hot Meals USA project, they were interested.

“They asked, ‘How can we participate?’” he said. “I told them, ‘Send money.’”

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The Bangalore South Rotary Club donated $2,000. The Attibele-Sarjaura Rotary donated $1,000. Another $3,000 came in collectively from a sizable group of past Rotary presidents in the Bangalore region. The total raised was $6,000.

While western Nebraska’s 34 Rotary clubs have contributed almost $90,000 to eight or nine projects in India in recent years, “this is the first time I know of where clubs in India have participated in a project in western Nebraska,” Seshadri said. “Most people in India haven’t even heard of Nebraska.”

Rotarians in India now are talking about starting a Hot Meals effort in India. The Indian government has a competent disaster relief program, Seshadri said, but the concept could have potential — although, he added, “I’m not even sure what kind of trailer will work in India because the roads there are not like they are here.”

Dick Cochran, founder and owner of Hot Meals USA, said, “We’d have to have a trailer built for them and shipped to them, but they thought this was an idea good enough to work in their country. The plan has always been to expand worldwide some day, but we’re talking 15 to 20 years.”

Contributions to Hot Meals USA also have come from Argentina, Tennessee and Michigan.

“Who would have thought the world would come together for a little group in Nebraska?” Cochran said. “Food is one thing we all have in common.”

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