The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma reached a milestone this week when the nonprofit distributed its 500 millionth pound of food to hungry Oklahomans. Last fiscal year in Jackson County, the nonprofit distributed more than 519,684 pounds of food and product for disaster and hunger relief efforts.
It took the Regional Food Bank 20 years to distribute its first 100 million pounds of food – the nonprofit is now on track to distribute 100 million pounds every 2.4 years. 500 Million Pounds of food equates to 416,666,666 meals for hungry Oklahomans. It would take 18,182 semi-trucks filled to capacity to transport 500,000,000 pounds of food and the weight of the food would be equivalent to 50,000 African Elephants!
“It is because of the generous support from the community, our donors, board members and staff that we have been able to reach this incredible milestone,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director and founder of the Regional Food Bank. “Together, we will continue fighting hunger in Oklahoma as long as there are hungry families, children and seniors who need us.”
The nonprofit has operated out of the Donald W. Reynold’s Distribution Center since 2000 and attributes the expanded capacity of the facility with the increased distribution. The Regional Food Bank distributed a record-breaking 47.9 million pounds of food and products in fiscal 2013, which ended on June 30. In Jackson County, the Regional Food Bank works with six partner agencies to fight hunger on a daily basis. Agencies include: Southwest Oklahoma Community Action Group, Salvation Army-Altus, Tamarack Road Church of Christ, Southwest Oklahoma Community Action-Altus, Southwest Oklahoma Community Action Nutrition and Operation Care Ministries.
“The amount of food donated and distributed to our friends in need was tremendous,” shared Bivens. “With the help of our partner agencies, we distributed an additional 5.7 million pounds more than the previous year to help both our neighbors struggling with hunger and Oklahomans working to rebuild their lives after devastating tornadoes and floods.”
The nonprofit also runs hunger-fighting programs in Jackson County, including Food for Kids. Last school year, the Regional Food Bank provided more than 2.1 million meals to chronically hungry children through Food for Kids childhood hunger programs: the Backpack Program, Kids Cafe, Summer Feeding, and School Pantries.
- Through the Backpack Program, children receive a backpack full of kid-friendly, non-perishable and nutritious food on Friday to sustain them over weekends and school holidays. Last school year, more than 15,000 students in 477 schools participated in the Backpack Program. In Jackson County, 216 students in seven schools benefited from this program. Participating schools included: Altus Intermediate, Rivers Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, Sunset Elementary, Washington Elementary, Will Rogers Elementary and Eldorado Elementary.
· The School Pantry Program provides chronically hungry middle and high school students, who are identified by school personnel, with food to sustain them after school and over the weekends. The School Pantry Program ended last school year serving nearly 3,000 students in 91 middle and high schools. In Jackson County, Altus Middle School participated in the program.
· Kids Cafe and Snack Sites, these afterschool programs provide food, mentoring, tutoring, and a variety of other activities to more than 1,500 at-risk children at 35 sites in central and western Oklahoma.
“It is unacceptable in this great state of ours that anyone should have to go without food because they are financially strapped,” commented Bivens. “The Regional Food Bank is here to ensure that children don’t go to school on an empty stomach, seniors don’t skip meals so that they can fill a prescription, and single parents working two jobs don’t have to worry about not having food on their table.”
The Regional Food Bank is the state’s largest hunger-relief organization, providing enough food to feed more than 90,000 hungry Oklahomans every week through a network of more than 1,000 partner agencies and schools in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties.
Donors and advocates also play an important role in fighting hunger.
“We are able to help so many of our neighbors because of community collaboration,” said Bivens. “Donors provide the food or the resources that allow us to purchase food for our volunteers to sort and pack. Partner agencies distribute the food to the more than 650,000 Oklahomans struggling with hunger. Advocates give a voice to this silent epidemic. We are grateful for all of our supporters because we simply could not serve the community without them.”
To make a tax-deductible donation, or for more information, visit regionalfoodbank.org or call 405-604-7111.