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'Huge need' | Food bank more than doubles meals given to kids

Food Bank Summer Feeding
Posted at 5:15 PM, Jun 06, 2024

Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma more than doubled the meals it serves this summer.

The CEO said inflation coupled with Oklahoma opting out of the Summer EBT program made this a critical issue.

From scoops of broccoli to spoonfuls of macaroni, a small but mighty group spent the day in the food bank's cold room getting meals ready for children in eastern Oklahoma.

“Here, I’m really helping people giving them actual food things they really need,” said Jack Bryan. “It seems much more important to me.”

A rising sophomore, Jack Bryan has been volunteering for a while, and said his work at Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is making a difference.

“Makes my day better every time I do it,” said Bryan.

This summer, the food bank said volunteers are working even harder as they more than double the amount of food they give to kids in need.

It’s a dramatic increase from 85,000 meals last summer to 200,000 this summer.

GRAPH: Food Bank Summer Meals

“We lead in the top 5 as the worst in feeding children,” said Jeff Marlow.

Marlow is CEO of Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. He told2 News they’re facing a need they haven’t seen since the pandemic.

“We’ve got 90 days that kids are out of school and we know that there’s a huge need to feed our children in Oklahoma,” said Marlow.

2 News reported in January when the state declined the new federal Summer EBT program that gives families of eligible children $40 a month from June to August.

Marlow said coupled with inflation at the grocery store means families are really struggling, especially when the meals students rely on during the school year stop.

“Over 90% of the people we serve as working class poor,” said Marlow. “They’re citizens doing everything they can and when they’re at work and their kids are home for the summer there needs to be food in the house.”

With 60% of Oklahoma students qualifying for free or reduced lunch at school, the food bank is hopeful the ramped up number of meals at 57 feeding sites will make sure kids don’t go hungry.

“It’s so important that we all come together and fulfill this need and feed our hungry Oklahomans,” said Marlow.

The Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations are participating in the summer EBT program. For a list of Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma’s feeding sites visit here.

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