Remember the hungry as holidays approach
BY SCOTT LEWIS
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
10/24/12 at 3:11 AM
Fall is here and the holidays are just around the corner.
Last year at Halloween I had the pleasure of being visited by a group of trick-or-treaters who, instead of asking for candy, were asking that canned goods be donated to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
These kids knew they were doing a good thing, but they probably didn't realize how many Oklahoma children just like them struggle with hunger every day. In fact, one in four of the hungry in our state is a child.
In the 24-county service area of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, 11.4 percent of households have used an emergency food program at least once in the past year. And 44 percent of household members served by emergency pantry programs in eastern Oklahoma are children younger than 18.
These statistics might seem frustrating - and frankly, not something you probably want to read about. But there is positive news and, more importantly, action to take.
Hunger is an issue in Oklahoma that goes beyond the holidays and thankfully the residents of this state are generously donating year-round. Last year the Food Bank collected nearly 17 million pounds of food, which was distributed through our partner agencies to families living right here in our eastern Oklahoma neighborhoods.
They are our neighbors and co-workers. Many are working families but, through no fault of their own, struggle to gain self-sustainability in today's economy. These families are often forced to choose between food and transportation, or food and medicine.
Food shouldn't be a choice and it's the Food Bank's mission to help families by allowing them to concentrate on other necessities.
While our state is filled with many generous people, the need to keep our pantries full on a regular basis remains. We are seeing no signs that this need will decrease in the foreseeable future.
This is our new normal.
So what can you do?
It's not too late to contribute to Gov. Mary Fallin's Feeding Oklahoma Food and Fund drive, which continues through Nov. 15. Now in its third year, the drive strives to collect 1.2 million meals for the hungry in Oklahoma. Donations will help feed people in all 77 counties - including those served by the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Since Fallin began the drive three years ago, it has provided more than 2.5 million meals to the hungry in Oklahoma.
The drive collects not only food, but also monetary donations. For each dollar raised, we can give five meals to the hungry in our state.
If you wish to donate food, our most-needed items include canned items, such as meat, vegetables, fruits and tuna, as well as peanut butter, rice and beans. You can drop-off nonperishable food donations at any Tulsa City-County Library during the drive. For a complete list of participating businesses, or to make a monetary donation online, visit tulsaworld.com/cfbeo
We're also receiving support from the state and local business communities, thanks to the governor's efforts. On Thursday, the Food Bank, along with WPX Energy, is hosting the Hunger's Hero Awards Luncheon in Tulsa to honor Gov. Fallin for her leadership in bringing the state together to help feed the hungry.
I'm proud that we as a state are addressing the issue of hunger head-on, thanks to initiatives such as the governor's food drive. We are encouraged that state and community leaders are thinking about the solutions to end hunger, and they are acting on it.
The Feeding Oklahoma Food and Fund Drive is just one of the many ways the community supports our state's two food banks. Let's join the governor and make a true difference for the 665,000 people in our state who struggle with hunger.
Scott Lewis is President of the Board of Directors of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
Scott Lewis: We are encouraged that state and community leaders are thinking about the solutions to end hunger, and they are acting on it