Tom Robinson saw a story on the TV news a few years ago about the Food Bank’s summer feeding program. Since he was a senior he thought he would go down join others like himself and help out. There were just two others at the time and a few mothers and daughters from the National Charity League. “Last year there were a few more volunteers, and this year there was a bunch more,” Tom said. The Food Bank’s fledging summer food program for children had taken off.
After three years volunteering in the Culinary Center, Tom came to the Food Bank every week day in this summer to pack meals for children and cheerfully train new volunteers who work alongside him. He comes early, and stays until the last meal is assembled. The process can be exhaustive, and labor intensive with each meal assembled and packed by hand. Tom takes genuine pride and exudes a real joy in his work knowing it means fewer hungry children.
“The Food Bank is a great program that does things no one else does for people that really need it. The breadth of the summer program and the quality of the food in these meals is just amazing. It is a tremendous opportunity to feed a lot of children who would not have received this kind of food.”
Tom’s presence and dedication actually gave the Food Bank confidence to expand summer feeding this year. Knowing we had a reliable, committed volunteer factored prominently into the decision to move from 26 meals sites last year to 78 this year.
Food Bank Sous Chef Jeremy Johnson oversees the summer and after school meal programs, and says he views Tom as integral to the success of both programs. “I know I can count on Tom. If I have to be out on a food truck, Tom can take over and manage the whole volunteer shift on his own. I never have to worry about the meals not being ready.”
And Tom did just that. Prepared meals went out each day with VISTA workers, other volunteers and Food Bank staff for delivery. At each site hungry children eagerly awaited their lunch’s arrival.
“The volunteers this year were amazing, the mother and daughter groups from the National Charity League were fabulous. The kids made sure to get their mothers here every morning. Even though they’re kids, some as young as sixth grade, they all knew the reason they’re here and they liked putting together all these meals.”
Tom also helps in the kitchen all year long in the new After School Fuel program which feeds children in low-income after school programs. “The food is always good and there is always a good variety.”
Tom was a headhunter recruiter for Energy Search Consultants finding qualified candidates for oil and gas companies. Retirement has given Tom the opportunity to continue working. Many days, Tom and his crew prepared over 1,800 meals for children. Literally thousands of children each week enjoyed healthy lunches thanks to Tom’s volunteer leadership. They will never meet him, but they have a fast friend in Tom Robinson.
If you would like to volunteer in the Culinary Center or have other skills that would benefit Oklahomans who may not know where they will get their next meal, contact Teressia Kehr at 918-936-4512.