On Wednesday, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma welcomed 25 Oklahoma National Guardsmen to its facility to help pack emergency food boxes. In addition, Team Rubicon has assigned three of its members to work at the Food & Resource Center in Moore.
“We are grateful to Gov. Stitt for activating the Guardsmen to help us during this critical time,” said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “In addition, the members of Team Rubicon are a major help to our staff at the Food & Resource Center who are serving an increasing number of Oklahomans.”
On Tuesday, Gov. J. Kevin Stitt approved the activation of the Oklahoma Air National Guardsmen to assist with the Regional Food Bank’s operations in Oklahoma City. The Guardsmen arrived ready to help the next day. Team Rubicon, a veteran service organization that uses disaster response to reintegrate veterans back into civilian life, began helping the Food & Resource Center last week.
Regional Food Bank Providing Meals for Western Heights School District Students
On Wednesday, the Regional Food Bank held two grab-and-go meal distributions for Western Heights students. The meal bags contain both breakfast and lunch and a container of shelf-stable milk. The service will continue each weekday through May 8, the official last day of school.
In addition to the Western Heights distributions, dozens of meal sites for children up to the age of 18 are opened and more are opening in the coming weeks. To find a meal site, visit Meals4KidsOK.org.
Partnering with Mercy Hospital in Response to COVID-19
This week, the Regional Food Bank provided nearly 100 emergency food boxes to Mercy Hospital to be distributed to discharged patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19. The boxes will also be distributed to Mercy Hospital staff who were exposed to COVID-19 through caring for the patients. The emergency food boxes contain 30 pounds of shelf-stable food such as canned soups and meats, canned vegetables, pasta, cereal and juice.
Oklahoma City, OK, April 22, 2020 - KOCO 5 and The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma have raised $425,000 in twenty-four hours during the KOCO 5 Project Community: Give From Home Day to help feed Oklahomans struggling with food insecurity during the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.
The virtual food drive, held all day April 21st, successfully raised the equivalent of 1.7 million meals. Viewers donated through “text to give” on their mobile phones, online at KOCO.com and on social media.
“Oklahomans really stepped up to help their neighbors. We appreciate the Regional FoodBank, APMEX for their $100,000 match and of course Blake Shelton for his commitment to his home state,” said Brent Hensley, KOCO 5 President and General Manager. “It never ceases to amaze me what Oklahomans will do to help in times of crisis. All I can say is THE OKLAHOMA STANDARD WAS PRESENT YET AGAIN.”
“The Regional Food Bank wants to thank KOCO 5 News and its loyal viewers who donated on Give From Home Day to support our efforts to provide food assistance to an increasing number of Oklahomans,” said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “From the smallest donation to the larger gifts from APMEX.comand Blake Shelton, it is all about Oklahomans coming together. We couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible response.”
Project Community Give From Home Day was hosted on KOCO 5 and all its digital platforms. The effort was joined by Oklahoma City based APMEX Incorporated, which matched $100,000 of donations, and Country Music star and Oklahoma native Blake Shelton, who personally donated $150,000. Many well-known Oklahomans joined the effort, including former OU Football Coach Barry Switzer, Olympic Gymnastics legends Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci, OSU President and First Cowgirl Burns & Ann Hargis, US Senator James Langford, former OSU and NFL Quarterback Brandon Weeden, Actress Rachael Cannon, former Thunder player Enes Kanter, Mixed Martial Arts Star Justin Wren, Martial Arts World Champion Rafael Lovato Jr. and legendary Professional Wrestling personality Jim Ross.
Individuals can still contribute by texting “FOOD” to 501501 to make a $10 donation.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma continues to provide emergency food boxes for Oklahomans in need of food assistance as a result of COVID-19 including 1,000 boxes sent to the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments. The association will distribute the emergency boxes to citizens in Caddo, Comanche, Cotton, Grady, Jefferson, McClain, Stephens and Tillman counties. In addition to the food boxes, the Regional Food Bank also provided 324 nutritious frozen meals for seniors along with 23,218 pounds of fresh produce.
“There’s not a community in our service area that has not been impacted by both the COVID-19 and the slumping oil and gas industry,” said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “The Regional Food Bank exists to provide food assistance to our fellow Oklahomans who need it.”
Over the last six days, the Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 1 million pounds of food. Projections show that food distribution will exceed 5 million pounds during April, a 25% increase from average monthly distributions.
Free Meals for Children
To date, there are 26 sites in central and western Oklahoma who are providing free meals for children up to the age of 18. This is in addition to food provided through school districts. There will be more new sites added in the coming weeks. To find a site near you, visit Meals4KidsOK.org.
The Regional Food Bank’s partner agencies are reporting a growing number of new households they are serving. If you are in need of food assistance, visit rfbo.org/get-help to find a nearby food pantry or call 405-972-1111. There are nearly 300 partner agencies providing food assistance including nearly 50 in the metro area. Food assistance is available.
Want to Help?
If you are interested in helping support the Regional Food Bank’s response to COVID-19, please donate online at rfbo.org/give or call 405-600-3136.
Since Gov. Stitt declared a state of emergency on March 15, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma has met the increased need for food assistance through its partner agency network. To date, the Regional Food Bank has distributed 3.5 million pounds of food, nearly 160,000 more pounds than normal. This increased amount is the equivalent of five semi-truck trailers with full loads.
“We will continue to purchase food to support this growing need within our 53-county service area,” said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “That’s why financial support is so key for us.”
Thanks to APMEX.com and several anonymous donors, donations made to the Regional Food Bank will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $2 million. To make a gift, visit rfbo.org/give or call 405-600-3136.
Food & Resource Center in Moore Changes Days of Operations
Effective Monday, April 13, the Food & Resource Center (FRC) will be open the following days and hours:
“This new schedule will allow the staff to prepare more emergency food boxes to meet the growing need,” Bunting said.
The week of April 6, the FRC served 732 households representing 2,824 people. Of those households, 476 were new clients, a 63% increase. The FRC is using a drive-thru distribution method to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed. Each vehicle receives more than 65 pounds of food including a box filled with shelf-stable food and bags of fresh produce, dairy and frozen protein.
Statement from Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma wants to assure residents that food assistance is available.
“Throughout the 53 counties that we serve in western and central Oklahoma, there are nearly 300 community-based partner agencies that continue to provide food assistance even during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “In the metro area alone, there are nearly 50 food pantries, including our Food & Resource Center in Moore, who are open and helping households in need of food.
“The Regional Food Bank has provided food assistance for the last 40 years and we will continue to do so during this health crisis and beyond.”
Anyone in need of food assistance should visit rfbo.org/get-help to find a nearby food pantry. The Regional Food Bank recommends that residents call a pantry before visiting to confirm operating hours and if there are any requirements such as presenting a photo ID. People can also call 405-972-1111 during work hours for assistance. For after hours, 2-1-1 can also provide information about food pantries.
The Regional Food Bank also encourages residents who are facing food insecurity to apply for SNAP assistance. The federal food assistance program provides monthly assistance with groceries. The Regional Food Bank can assist individuals with the application at rfbo.org/SNAP or call 405-600-3168.
Thanks to Paycom and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Western Heights Public Schools distributed 444 emergency food boxes to district families in a drive-thru delivery. Vehicles began forming a line along South Council Road around 9 a.m. for the noon distribution.
“The original plan was to distribute 300 emergency food boxes but when it became apparent that 300 wasn’t going to be enough, we were able to deliver 144 additional food boxes,” said Deb Buntin, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “We appreciate the support of Paycom and its employees, several of whom were on hand to help with the distribution.
“With children who participate in the free or reduced cost school meals plans out of school, households are feeling an additional strain. Add on to that possible job loss due to COVID-19 and the need is real,” Bunting said.
In addition to working with several school districts, the Regional Food Bank has nine Summer Feeding sites opening today including locations in Blackwell, Shawnee, Durant and several sites in the Oklahoma City metro. The Regional Food Bank worked with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expedite the application process in order to open these and future locations earlier than anticipated. The locations provide free weekday meals and snacks to any child up to 18 years of age. To view a directory of meal sites for children, visit Meals4KidsOK.org.
Anyone in need of food assistance should call 405-972-1111 during the weekday or visit rfbo.org/get-help to locate a nearby pantry.
Individuals whose income Impacted by COVID-19 may qualify for SNAP
Many individuals who have lost employment may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. For assistance with completing the online SNAP application or to answer questions, contact the Regional Food Bank’s SNAP outreach coordinator at 405-600-3168 or complete a assistance form here.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is responding to the increasing number of Oklahomans in need of food assistance. Partner agencies are seeing nearly a 40% increase in the number of new households they are serving.
“We are now making deliveries on Saturdays as well as throughout the week,” said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “No community, regardless of size or location, is spared by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Retail food donations remain down compared to normal donations. As a result, the Regional Food Bank continues to purchase food to ensure it has enough in inventory to support the increased need among partner agencies as well as to create emergency food boxes.
The Regional Food Bank continues to work with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open more free meal sites for children up to age 18. The Regional Food Bank’s Kids Café at the Denny Price YMCA in Enid served 232 children on Thursday while the Kids Café at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Stillwater served more than 100 children. Sites and hours of operations are listed at Meals4KidsOK.org.
“We appreciate the assistance of our friends at the state and federal level who are helping expedite getting these meal sites open as quickly as possible,” Bunting said. “Households are feeling the strain of children not receiving meals at school, The more sites we can provide, the better for everyone.”
The Food & Resource Center (FRC) in Moore, a program of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, is now distributing emergency food boxes and other food products via a drive-thru model where boxed food and sacks of protein and dairy are placed into vehicles. Today, the FRC served 133 households that included 38 new families.
“That’s nearly a 30 percent increase in the number of new households,” said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “We expect to see more and more people seeking food assistance as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic deepens.”
The FRC typically serves residents living in south Oklahoma City, Moore and Norman but in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the location will serve anyone in need of food assistance. Visitors just need to have a photo ID. For the FRC’s operating hours and location, please click here.
Meal Sites for Children
The Regional Food Bank staff continues to work with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open more meal sites where any child up to age 18 can receive a free meal and snack on weekdays. Yesterday, 344 children were served. New sites are being added daily at Meals4KidsOK.org.
Partner Agencies Serving Residents in Need
Nearly 300 of the Regional Food Bank’s partner agencies continue to provide food assistance throughout the 53-county service area. People in need of food assistance should visit rfbo.org/get-help or call 405-972-1111. Please call pantries before visiting to confirm operating hours and any requirements.
Founded in 1980, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is the state’s largest hunger-relief nonprofit, serving 53 counties in central and western Oklahoma. The Regional Food Bank works with more than 1,300 community-based partner agencies to provide food assistance to chronically hungry children, seniors living on limited incomes and hardworking families struggling to make ends meet. Each week, the Regional Food Bank distributes 1 million pounds of food including fresh produce.
The Regional Food Bank is a food-delivery model food bank. Our service area covers 53 counties in central and western Oklahoma, a 48,000-square-mile region. Partner agencies access an online ordering system to order needed food and the Regional Food Bank delivers the orders based upon a pre-established delivery schedule.