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Local couple spends time, money to feed others

Posted at 5:24 AM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 06:48:39-05

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) - At 4 a.m., it’s not uncommon to find the Johnsons brewing large batches of coffee while cooking a savory meal.

Jenny Johnson, 55, boiled water for the bowtie pasta she’ll later use for her Tuscan Garlic Chicken.

Her husband, Alan Johnson, 56, looks on in between making sure their four dogs are settled.

I thought it was a crackpot idea to be honest, he said.

He’s referring to the time his wife told him she wanted to feed those in need in downtown Omaha at the Gene Leahy Mall. Every Wednesday morning.

In 2014, Jenny approached him with the idea after serving at the Open Door Mission for awhile.

"I never thought three years later we'd still be, you know, doing it,” Alan Johnson said.

Every week, rain, snow or shine – Jenny Johnson said you can find them feeding anywhere from 100 to 300 people depending on the weather.

The couple estimates they spend more than a $1,000 every month, somehow making their wallets stretch to honor their commitment.

After raising their six children, Jenny Johnson said she found herself wondering how to spend her time, even turning to her faith and asking God for help.

She claims she heard a voice that said, “Feed the homeless.”

While the pair shoulder most of the work, a few people do help. There’s the woman and man who use their lunch break to volunteer since they work downtown. Pettit’s Bakery often donates pastries. Recently, the couple received $1,000 from a club organization.

Jenny Johnson said she feels thankful her husband bears most of the cost and planning when it comes to shopping.

“I’m no expert,” she said. “I’m just the cook.”

But Alan Johnson sees it differently.

She’s the driving force behind all of this, he said.

“To see what she does is amazing,” Alan Johnson said.

While they’re always willing, the couple ocassionally run into financial hurdles.

Sometimes, Jenny Johnson says she’ll find dollar bills sitting around the house. For her, she believes the findings are signs from God. Every now and then, the people they help will in return donate their money or something of value to the Johnsons.

Outsiders will ask the couple, why continue especially when times get tough?

Jenny Johnson says it’s because she loves helping those who are less fortunate.

For her husband, he’s realized they can’t stop what they started even when the math doesn't add up.

"If you wait until you do something for everybody, you'll never do anything for anybody.”