With the holiday season approaching, most families turn their thoughts to those of joy and gratitude. For those of us at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, we too remain grateful for the generous support of our financial donors and volunteers who help us fulfill our goal of providing food with dignity for all Eastern Oklahomans.
This year we have helped so many people. On average we provide 346,000 meals every single week of the year to our neighbors facing hunger; that’s more people every week than would attend the state’s major college football games on a given Saturday. Imagine feeding everyone at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, H.A. Chapman Stadium here in Tulsa, and then doing it all over again. Each week of the year, the work remains.
For a great many of us, everything seems okay for now, but one small detail can overturn the applecart. An illness or injury that inhibits the productivity of a family member, the necessity of attentive care-giving to another, a child with a disability needs additional assistance or the death of a working family member creates an unexpected burden.
Many people already struggling on the margins find themselves just a step away from critical financial chaos, such as a car needed to maintain work requires an unexpected repair. Those who depend on Social Security benefits received no cost of living increase to their benefits this year and yet the costs of many routine items continue to increase.
We recently learned of a woman who works as a paraprofessional for one of the Tulsa Public Schools. On her own, she was able to make ends meet. However, circumstances unexpectedly placed four grandchildren in her care. This caregiver was barely surviving before, and now with four additional people relying on her attention, life is even harder.
“I can help with homework, I can give the kids a bath, but I can’t create food out of thin air,” she says. This hardworking grandparent now relies on food assistance to keep those dependent children fed, feeling secure and focused on their education.
Each faith tradition includes imperatives for remembering and supporting the least of our citizens. We ask each of you to remember that every Oklahoman is worthy of the most basic fundamental necessities; that of nourishment, food, and life. As we gather to celebrate and offer gifts to one another, imagine how appreciated the gift of food to someone suffering hunger would make.
Our annual Fill the Plate campaign provides the ability to leverage new and increased gifts to the Food Bank with a matching grant–up to $150,000– from the George Kaiser Family Foundation. With the Food Bank’s ability to leverage four meals from one donated dollar, that is 600,000 additional meals with this single campaign.
The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma wishes a holiday season filled with bounty, goodness, family, friends, health and joy to everyone in the metro area. We appreciate your help in lifting up those who struggle to secure their next meal.