After heeding the call to service, many veterans and their families now need our help.

Food Bank partnerships and initiatives provide hunger relief to veterans in need. One partner is a Veterans Colonization Project near Wilburton. The setting for the Veterans Colony is in the beautiful, but remote, Winding Stair Mountains with plenty of pine trees, water and wildlife. Originally established to provide home-sites for Oklahoma’s Spanish-American War veterans, current active duty or honorably discharged veterans can participate.

The Food Bank provides needed food to families in the Veterans Colony through Mobile Pantries. On a regular basis, the Food Bank brings a truckload of fresh produce, bakery items, and shelf-stable food for distribution. Volunteers from the Colony, as well as nearby high school students, volunteer their time to sort the food into boxes and bags so families can drive through and pick up their provisions.

Ray and his wife are both veterans who live in the Colony. Ray served in the army, his wife is now deployed in the Army National Guard. Like many of the veterans living in the Colony, Ray is unable to work and relies on disability income. “It gets pretty thin from check to check. The food is a tremendous help when you need a little extra to get you through.”

The remote location is a benefit for many residents, but there are also great distances to travel for basic resources. For those residents with mobility issues or low-incomes, transportation is an obstacle to obtaining nutritious food. Ray is grateful for the convenience of the Mobile Pantry, “We live out here in Latimer County. It’s beautiful, but to get from one place to another it takes a lot of our money for gas.”

Ray shared the gratitude that many of the veterans expressed, “I thank God for the giving people who help when they can. I hope that they know that their donations, no matter how small, help communities, they really do.”

In the summer of 2015, the Food Bank began an effort of outreach to a segment of our community that was under reported in hunger awareness surveys, namely veterans. For a multitude of reasons, hunger affects veterans disproportionately more than the general population. With 110,000 military veterans living in the Food Bank’s service area alone, there are likely many more veterans facing food insecurity in Oklahoma.
If you would like more information on programs that assist veterans in eastern Oklahoma, contact Jim Lyall at 918-936-4539.