Longevity and consistency are frequently overlooked values in a fast-paced world of newer, faster, more. However, longevity, consistency, and compassionate energy describe Evelyn Nienhuis’ commitment to providing hope to hungry Oklahomans. Evelyn’s devotion and involvement with the Food Bank dates back to the earliest days of operations.
Ms. Nienhuis was a Food Bank board member when the first capital campaign launched to purchase the initial Food Bank building in 1985. She worked hard and gave generously to that campaign. After her tenure on the board ended, her commitment to the hungry, and the work of the Food Bank continued. Evelyn’s enthusiastic spirit, always advocating for the hungry has persevered. She currently volunteers with the “Purple Posse” from Montereau. In order to continue expanding services provided to people in the community, Evelyn helped the Food Bank purchase adjacent land. The lot will facilitate a much needed capital expansion.
The Food Bank journey has taken many unexpected turns over the years. Starting off in a rickety, rented building, a tiny offshoot of Neighbor for Neighbor, the Food Bank distributed 90,000 pounds of food through 25 partners its first year. In contrast, 2018 saw the Food Bank provide 28.2 million pounds of food with 360 amazing partners. In the beginning, Evelyn never would have dreamed over 300 million pounds of food would go to people in need since 1981. If you want to know what the scenery looked like on the early part of the trip, ask Evelyn she’s been along for the entire ride.
The Hunger Awareness Award formally recognizes an individual or organization for actions that create an awareness of food insecurity in Oklahoma and who has a significant impact on our communities. This award, sponsored by the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, includes a $1,000 scholarship credited to the Partner Agency of Evelyn’s choice to help feed the hungry. Congratulations to Evelyn Nienhuis, the 2019 Sara J. Waggoner Hunger Awareness awardee.