Miguel Cervantes, owner of Dos de Oros, left, and Mike Lane,owner of Auto Donation Center, will be providing meals for 25 military families in Fort Leavenworth this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Photo by Don Bradley.

Two south KC friends make it possible for military families to enjoy a “Grandma-style” thanksgiving dinner

 “The thought that a soldier’s family in this country, in Kansas, is scrounging for food amazes me.”

By Don Bradley

Some military families will get a Grandma’s style Thanksgiving dinner thanks to a couple of area men.

It started when Mike Lane, who operates the non-profit Auto Donation Center in Grandview, saw a TV news story about Army families struggling this year to afford the traditional holiday meal because of inflation.

He knew that wasn’t right.

“I don’t know these people or where they’re from, but these guys might get shot or blown up and I think their families ought to have a nice holiday meal,” Lane said.

So he has arranged to provide a full holiday spread for six, from turkey to pumpkin pie and everything in between, for 25 families at Fort Leavenworth.

And he’s doing another 25 families at Christmas.

That’s 300 meals and that’s a lot of cooking.

So Lane called a buddy, Miguel Cervantes, owner of the Mexican restaurant Dos de Oros, who jumped at the chance to get involved.

Jose “Pepe” Cervantes started preparing meals on Tuesday.

“This year is going to be hard for a lot of families,” Cervantes said while sitting in a booth at the restaurant at 13029 Holmes Road. “And these military families do so much to defend our country.”

Lane, sitting next to him, nodded.

“And we have the ability to help,” he said.

 “The thought that a soldier’s family in this country, in Kansas, is scrounging for food amazes me,” Lane said.

Cervantes displays a dish of sweet potatoes, gravy and green bean casserole ready for shipment.

He and Cervantes made clear these meals will not be like store-bought or restaurant fare.

“This is going to be like Grandma’s,” Lane said.

Which is even more work because “like Grandma’s” is a high bar.

So Tuesday afternoon in the kitchen at Dos de Oros, Cervantes and some of his kitchen crew will take a break from enchiladas and fajitas and jump full bore into turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls and pumpkin pie.

“We gotta have it at the base (Fort Leavenworth) by noon Wednesday,” Lane said.

There, the meals go to Monica Bassett, who was the subject of the initial news story Lane saw. She’s an Army wife and stay-at-home mom who recently started Stronghold Food Pantry to serve Army families.

“I thought it was amazing when Mike called and said he wanted to help,” Bassett said. “He shares the same vision to help our community. It makes it so much more rewarding when other people get involved.”

Mike Lane, Monica Bassett and Miguel Cervantes prepare to load a van headed to Fort Leavenworth.

She knows well the struggle of so many military families. It’s often hard for a spouse to find good jobs because some service members don’t stay long in the same place. Inflation made hard times harder.

A recent Department of Defense study showed 24 percent, nearly a fourth, of all military families face food insecurity.

For her effort to start the Stronghold Community Food Pantry, she was named Army Spouse of the Year by Armed Forces Insurance.

Bassett said the meals from Kansas City will be delivered to the families Wednesday evening. She added that she will definitely soon plan a trip to Kansas City.

“Oh, I have to get to Dos de Oros,” she said. “That is definitely on my list. Has to be. These guys are great.”

Sponsors are Auto Donation Center, Dos de Oros and A Warrior’s Mission, Inc.


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