Oklahoma hunger crisis will not end without everyone’s help

Portrait of Tulsa Area United Way employee Brent Sadler

Note: This originally appeared as a Tulsa World editorial by Brent Sadler on June 19, 2022.

As food prices continue to rise, nonprofit organizations in the region deserve a great deal of credit for their innovative approach to providing individuals and families access to nutritious meals.

In response to early indications that a food crisis was imminent, organizations, including Tulsa Area United Way partner agencies, recognized that they needed to work together in new ways to address short-term and long-term community needs. Our state has alarming food insecurity statistics.

According to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma:

594,000 Oklahomans (1 in 6) are food insecure, including 208,000 children;

In Tulsa County, approximately 87,700 people, including 31,580 children, are food insecure; and

In Okmulgee County, for instance, 6,710 people are food insecure, including 26% of its children.

In the face of such challenging statistics, the Food Bank awarded capacity grants to food pantries in the region. The grant funding enabled organizations to, for example, increase cold storage facilities to reduce food waste and prevent food spoilage.

And even though supply-chain problems persist, grocery stores have partnered with the Food Bank to ensure food pantries’ shelves stay full with a variety of nutritious foods.

The hunger crisis will not end without your help.

Please donate food, your time and a financial contribution to the Food Bank, which is able to distribute the equivalent of four meals for every dollar you give.

You can also make a difference by participating in Tulsa Area United Way’s Third Annual Day of Caring Food and Blood Drive.

On June 24, you can donate nonperishable food items at one of 16 donation sites, including BancFirst Wagoner, First Oklahoma Bank, Hilti, Jim Norton Toyota, Jim Norton T-Town Chevrolet, Mabrey Bank and SpiritBank Bristow.

Through June 26, you can also shop at any Oasis Fresh Market and Supermercados Morelos stores and donate your groceries to the Food and Blood Drive right there in the store. For details, visit tauw.org/fooddrive.

To learn where to donate or receive food any time of the year, contact the Community Service Council’s program, 211 Eastern Oklahoma, by dialing 2-1-1. It is a free and confidential link to help for those in need, available by phone call, live chat, text message, or online search.

Despite the pandemic last spring, the TAUW Food and Blood Drive collected 42,000 pounds of food for the Food Bank and other local food pantries. Also, a number of those same generous people donated nearly 200 pints of blood to the American Red Cross and Oklahoma Blood Institute.

As a result of those blood donations, 575 people received life-saving medical care.

On this Father’s Day, I am grateful to celebrate with my family. And as we sit down to enjoy an abundance of food, we will pause with gratitude.

We are thankful to live in a community that steps up to help those in need when they are needed most.

Brent Sadler is the chief community investments officer at the Tulsa Area United Way.

 

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