One in four Oklahoma children is at risk of going to bed hungry tonight. Based on this identified need, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma's Food for Kids program specifically addresses childhood hunger and ensures food-insecure children in our communities have a reliable resource for nutritious meals throughout the year.
The Food for Kids Backpack Program provides nutritious, kid-friendly food to food insecure students to take home on Friday after school. Without this food, many students would return to school on Monday having eaten little or no food on the weekend. The Food Bank distributes more than 6,500 backpacks of food each week to students in preschool through high school in Tulsa County.
This program is run as a direct service by the Food Bank in Tulsa County. In communities outside of Tulsa County, the program is coordinated through Partner Programs. Partner Programs distribute 3,600 backpacks of food each week in the rural counties of eastern Oklahoma.
School Pantry Program
The School Pantry Program alleviates child hunger through the provision of food to low-income high school and middle school students and their families at school. High schools and middle schools are moving toward the School Pantry system over the Backpack Program because it better meets the needs of older students in terms of appetite and appeal. Older students also have the ability to prepare their own food, unlike younger children receiving backpacks. School Pantry food is distributed discreetly through food pantries set up on school campuses. School Pantries have set distribution schedules and also offer ongoing food assistance services to students. School Pantries may have a permanent set up within a school, or may operate through a mobile distribution rotation where food is brought to the school campus on a regular schedule throughout the school year. Program coordinators consist of school staff who help guide the students in making healthy eating choices based on what they like to eat and with the aid of the USDA’s MyPlate dietary guidelines.
Free Family Farmers' Markets
Free Family Farmers' Markets provide fresh produce and bakery items to low-income students and their families through a partnership with Community Action Project and their Early Childhood Development Centers. Families are invited to attend based on identified need from school sites and can receive produce and bakery items twice a month.
Extended School Holiday Feeding
When children are out of school for holidays and summer vacation, they no longer have access to the free and reduced-cost meal program, which many families rely on. The Food Bank tries to help fill that gap for families and provides meals for children in high-poverty areas during extended school holidays and over summer vacation.
The Food Bank partners with Tulsa Public Schools' Summer Cafe program and distributes prepared nutritious meals to children under 18 at eleven sites throughout Tulsa. The Food Bank's Mobile Eatery also provides ready-to-enjoy meals at various locations to help provide nutritious meals for children and their families.
After School Fuel
For many children who receive breakfast and lunch at school, they still may experience food shortages at home in the evenings. The After School Fuel program offers healthy after school meals in partnership with the Food Bank, community organizations, and the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Currently, this partnership includes providing hot meals and Super Snack meals (nutritious shelf-stable meals) for children at several program sites. Eligible programs must provide care for children after school in a low-income area, offer organized, regularly scheduled activities in a supervised environment, and provide educational enrichment activities.
Summer Feeding Program - Hunger-Free Summer
Summer days usually mean a break from school for Tulsa’s children; however, some children find they are lacking the security of one or more daily meals when school is out. This summer, for the first time, the Food Bank’s Culinary Center will produce thousands of meals each week and distribute them to a variety of feeding sites for students with the help of AmeriCorps Members. Free meals will be provided to all children aged 18 and under.
With that many meals produced in the kitchen, volunteer opportunities are available for those who love working in a commercial kitchen and are committed to alleviating hunger for children. For information about volunteering in the culinary center, contact Teressia Kehr at 918-936-4512 or email@example.com.
In addition, Tulsa Public Schools’ Summer Café Program will provide meals for students. Some of those sites not only serve lunch, but will also be offering breakfast. For more information about the program, contact Kit Hines at 918-271-1520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.