Community and connection through cooking

Apr 10, 2024 | by Daisy Hutzell-Rodman

A grilled cheese sandwich is an easily prepared comfort food that only costs a couple of dollars to make — yet many in the area struggle to afford even those couple of dollars. Those in need of food can get assistance and a complete, nutritious, hot meal at The Salvation Army.

Cory Montgomery, chef at The Salvation Army of Omaha’s North Corps, helps alleviate hunger and food insecurity each weekday with the meals he prepares. It’s a labor of love for Montgomery, who earned an associate’s degree in culinary arts and worked at the Milo Bail Student Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha before joining The Salvation Army.

“My passion is for helping people, and I love to cook, so I feel like I have the perfect job doing what I do,” he said.

Montgomery, who is known by many as “Chef Cory,” started cooking as a child, helping prepare meals at home for his family of seven siblings, grandma and mom.  A single father, Montgomery struggled with his own mental health during the COVID pandemic, but working at The Salvation Army has been a source of joy for him.

Montgomery works with a team of three — a dishwasher, server and drinks assistant — to help hundreds of people daily. The community surrounding The Salvation Army at 24th and Pratt Street includes many in need, and Montgomery and his team makes sure everyone who comes to the dining service or after-school program gets a nutritious meal and a safe place in which to eat it.

“We have people who depend on us, even a lot of people from the Siena Francis House, we get a lot of people who walk up here to eat my food,” Montgomery said. “Some people tell me this is the only meal they get a day, and (they appreciate) knowing that I care about them. I know some of the people here on a first name basis, I greet them.”

He cooks food he knows will satisfy people’s nutritional needs and enjoys making. One day might be baked chicken with green beans, carrots and fruit with a dinner roll; the next might be smothered pork chops with mashed potatoes and a different vegetable.

Whether cooking fried chicken or red beans and rice, Montgomery is grateful to be able to help feed those in need.

“I always wanted to … give back,” Montgomery said. “I feel like I have the perfect job that I have the perfect opportunity to give back.”








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