TULSA, Okla. — For 21 years, 2 News Oklahoma has been fighting Hunger in Green Country in our Food 2 Families Food Drive, benefitting the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
The event is one of our largest and longest-running 2 Cares for the Community events. Due to the pandemic, demand right now is high, and many of our neighbors are asking for help for the first time.
Megan Quickle is the Executive Director of Broken Arrow Neighbors, a food pantry and community resource center serving more than 11,000 people in Broken Arrow and Coweta each year.
She says, "Hunger touches every part of our community. It touches children, it touches senior citizens, it touches families, single moms, single dads."
Over the past year and a half, she's seen many new faces come to Broken Arrow Neighbors for help.
"People who are one or two paychecks away from disaster to their family, that's who we're seeing here now. In 2020 alone, we had a 35% increase in clients that were brand new to us. That's an incredible increase of people who needed help from us for the very first time in their lives," says Quickle.
It's a trend that's being seen across Green Country.
"It takes a lot of guts for people to ask for help, but they've reached that point, and we're seeing a lot of first-time people," says Dan Stein, Interim CEO of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma works with more than 350 partner agencies like Broken Arrow Neighbors to distribute more than half a million meals a week. The pandemic has caused that to become increasingly challenging. Rising food costs and supply chain issues have resulted in fewer donations. That's a big problem for our state, which ranks in the top 5 when it comes to hunger insecurity.
"Some 4 million people live in Oklahoma, and nearly 600,000 identify themselves as food insecure. That's 1 in every 6," says Stein.
The Food Bank tells 2 News Oklahoma that 1 in 4 Oklahoma children may go to be hungry tonight. However, you can help through donations. The food bank is looking for non-perishable food items. Complete meals, soups, and high protein selections like peanut butter and canned meats are some of the best things you can give. You can also donate money.
"A dollar allows us to buy up to 4 meals. And we are able to fill in the gaps of things when people are able to provide us the financials through money," says Stein.
Your donations stay right here in Oklahoma.
"This food drive which has now existed more than 20 years, has played a huge role not only in getting a great product to people, but also raising awareness too," says Stein.
When you donate to Food 2 Families, you are helping to fight hunger and feed hope.
"We see people on the worst day of their lives, and you are able to help them, and I want to say thank you because you are truly making a difference," adds Quickle.
Food 2 Families runs through December 14th. You can donate at any Reasor's location or online.
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