Big Truck Tacos Volunteer Night is tomorrow!

I took a minute to sit down and talk to the Big Truck Tacos owners about tomorrow’s Volunteer Night. Check out this clip, and join us tomorrow night!

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright is the Marketing Coordinator at the Regional Food Bank. Natalie manages social media for the organization. Connect with her on Twitter (@rfbo) and Facebook!
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I work with kids.  I talk to kids about food, healthy eating and cooking.  I ask more questions of them then they ask of me, and I often get answers I don’t expect.  My project this month has been VeggieDillas (or vegetable quesadillas, for readers born without a compound word gene). The thrust of the activity is getting a group of 6-12 year olds at our Kids Cafe program to name fruits and vegetables that are different colors. I often start with green and immediately tiny hands reach for the sky.



“Uhh…. I forgot…”



Peals of elementary laughter.

When I get to white or brown, groups often get stuck.  We always have to stop and go over why eggs and milk (though both white) aren’t a fruit or vegetable. Milk comes from cows, not the ground. Therefore, not a fruit or vegetable.  Eggs come from chickens, so also not a fruit or vegetable. Eggs are NOT a dairy product because they’re not made out of milk (don’t laugh, when I worked at a high-end natural grocery store, people got this wrong constantly – eggs are next to the dairy, but guilt by association does not extend to that end of the agricultural rainbow).

I’m used to kids (and grownups) getting foods and food colors wrong, but last week I was thrown by this exchange:

ME: (pointing to a small girl, about 8 ) OK, what brown or white vegetable did you think of?

GIRL: (putting her hand down and smiling brightly) A hamburger.


ME: Well, a hamburger is mostly brown, but it’s not a fruit or vegetable, is it?

A second of silence.

GIRL: (looking down, in a quietly defiant tone) but they taste good…

Uproarious laughter from thirty-five 2nd graders.

I had a second to think while the raucous subsided. I weighed my options, and choose to sidestep the taste issue and tackle the logic of her argument.

ME: You know, Ding-Dongs taste good too, but they’re not a fruit or vegetable either, are they?

Less laughter this time, but enough to afford a smooth transition into the next color and allow me to finish the activity unscathed.

I tell this story to help you understand the need for basic culinary education in our youth.  When most of a generation of people grow up believing that food comes from the grocery store, not the soil – we’re all in trouble.  We’ve backed ourselves into an agricultural corner by distancing ourselves so extravagantly from the sources of our most basic necessities – food, water and shelter.

If the thinking of your average western 6th grader is applied to a teleological view of humankind as a species, then the capstone of our 70,000 year journey out of sub-Saharan caves is playing Call of Duty 4 and eating microwave Pizza Rolls.  But it’s not their fault – they don’t know any better.  The lynchpin of what I do is closing the gap between what my great-grandparents knew about food and what our kids know now.

That’s why I work with kids.  That’s why I love what I do.  Keep your ear to the ground next month for more from me on farm fresh food, why we eat so little of it and why you can’t buy a good tomato at the grocery store.

Forever Yours,

Mason Weaver
Nutrition Educator, Americorps Member, Aspiring Farmer

Mason Weaver

Mason Weaver

Mason Weaver (AmeriCorps Member) is our Urban Harvest Director. Mason returned to Oklahoma last year to teach kids about healthy food and pursue his passion for sustainable market gardening. He believes that teaching a child to grow, harvest and cook their own vegetables will make ours a more just and equitable society.
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The Pound for Pound Challenge has officially ended for the year. Many of us at the Regional Food Bank said goodbye to unwanted and unhealthy weight. As a group, we lost a total of 153 pounds. Everyone who participated is below their start weight – yes! As a group, we lost 6 percent of our total body weight, with one individual losing 12% of their body weight and another losing 11 percent of their body weight.

In addition to our employee weight loss, many Oklahomans pledged to change their lifestyles and lose weight, too. This year, individuals across the nation pledged to lose a total of 6.2 million pounds. Folks in our service area (1,616 individuals) pledged to lose 51,189 pounds! With generous donation of $.14 per pound pledged from the Pound For Pound Challenge, the Food Bank will receive a gift in the amount of $7,166. This gift will allow us to provide more than 50,000 meals those struggling from hunger!

Great job everyone!

Melanie Anthony

Melanie Anthony

Melanie Anthony is a Development Manager at the Regional Food Bank. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate and mother of two.
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Big Truck Tacos Volunteer Night is July 27th!

This summer, we received a grant that has allowed us to purchase an additional 4.2 million pounds of product to help the hungry in Oklahoma. The product is in our warehouse, but can’t be distributed until volunteers help assemble the Emergency Family Boxes. Per the stipulations of the grant, it all has to be distributed before the end of September.

On Tuesday, July 27th, we are hosting a special Big Truck Taco Volunteer Night 5:30 – 8 pm at the Food Bank (located near the airport in OKC at 3355 S. Purdue). We would love for you, your friends and your family come out that night and help us assemble the boxes that will help needy families!

The Big Truck Taco truck will be selling tacos outside from 5:30-6:30. Once you’ve had some grub, head inside to help assemble boxes. We promise you’ll go home feeling great about what you’ve accomplished in two short hours!! Hope you can make it.

Need a reminder? RSVP on Facebook.

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright is the Marketing Coordinator at the Regional Food Bank. Natalie manages social media for the organization. Connect with her on Twitter (@rfbo) and Facebook!
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Dot Foods Donates Truckload of Food

Dot Foods delivered a truckload of food to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in honor of the food redistributor’s 50th anniversary. This is the fourth stop for Dot Foods’ 50th anniversary golden trailer as it travels to 11 food banks across the country to deliver 270,000 pounds of food.

The company is is celebrating its 50th year in business by donating 270,000 pounds of food to 11 Feeding America food banks near each of Dot’s eight distribution centers. The donations will be delivered by a special golden anniversary trailer. Equivalent to $315,000, the food donation will include items such as canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, tuna, beans, rice and cereal.

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright is the Marketing Coordinator at the Regional Food Bank. Natalie manages social media for the organization. Connect with her on Twitter (@rfbo) and Facebook!
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“I’m checking you in Connie,” and I looked over as my supervisor Natalie was logging me in and updating my status on Facebook/Foursquare.  I cackled to myself knowing that my Facebook status would inform my friends that I was attending a meeting with the OKC Thunder; jealous reactions would surely follow.

Entering the OKC Thunder offices I had no idea what to expect, so naturally I made up a scenario in my mind.  Perhaps I would see a board room populated by serious faces and even more serious suits.  Or maybe the meeting would be held on a basketball court at the 3-point line with Rumble reading off the agenda, assuming he even speaks at all.  Blame it on my overactive imagination for making up such ridiculous ideas.

So on to the meatier stuff, the actual meeting.  We were there to sort out the details for upcoming events for food drives and volunteer events, which at a time like this, is much needed given the fact that the Regional Food Bank is now sorting and packing an additional 4.2 million pounds of food to be shipped out by the end of September.  The Food Bank values its partnerships and it is due to the organization’s ability to cultivate relationships with other businesses that has allowed it to survive for 30 years.  Indeed, no man is an island could be our internal organizational mantra, if we even had such a thing.

Community partnerships are something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Even I didn’t realize how much the Food Bank relied on its connections with other community developers until during the meeting.  Actually I didn’t even realize the Thunder had a community relations department, hence the need for me to hope that our meeting would be lead by a man in a bison outfit.

After the meeting, I realized how much working with the community leaders like the Thunder can help bring attention to the issue of hunger – an issue that’s often invisible.  It’s important to have community leaders who are passionate and supportive of a cause. They can communicate to a potentially new audience and help foster the passion for cause that’s so fundamental to an organization like the Food Bank.

Even though we never set foot on the 3-point line, and Rumble didn’t show up to the meeting, it was a great experience.  Getting the chance to go behind the scenes and see how everything works beyond what we see on the court is a rare opportunity, and it’s been one of the many benefits I’ve enjoyed during my internship so far.  Most importantly, I was able to meet another group of hard working individuals who were dedicated to the fight against hunger.

Connie Lam

Connie Lam

Connie Lam is the Marketing Intern at the Regional Food Bank. She recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Advertising.
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Employee Gardens: Win-Win

This editorial ran in The Oklahoman on July 3rd.

The support of our corporate sponsors in Oklahoma is great, and because of that support we are able to continue our mission of “Fighting Hunger…Feeding Hope.”

One of our most ardent supporters, Chesapeake Energy, has found yet another way to help nonprofits such as ours, while engaging their employees and impacting the community.  The Chesapeake Employee Garden is an idea we hope will be adopted and replicated by companies of all sizes throughout the state.

Simply put, it’s a garden established by Chesapeake and grown, harvested and enjoyed by members of Chesapeake’s Green Thumb Club. All excess produce will be distributed to organizations such as the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Specifically, Chesapeake has set up a “sustainable” garden on a full city block between Shartel and Lee Avenues and NW 62nd and 61st streets, featuring raised bed plots reserved for planting and harvesting a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

The Green Thumb Club has 56 teams of Chesapeake employees who work individual plots and five common beds for shared crops of cane berries, strawberries, asparagus, cut flowers and herbs.

Throughout the garden, a “sustainable approach,” is employed, encouraging focus on the health and vitality of the soil while providing plants with the optimum condition for growth, and increasing resistance to pests and diseases. All participants have attended a ‘Basics of Sustainable Gardening’ course.

Chesapeake’s Green Thumb Club is comprised of all skill levels of gardeners and allows employees and their families to hone their gardening techniques in a fun and enjoyable community setting. Garden participants will be provided educational classes, resources and guidance throughout the seasons.

We encourage organizations of all sizes to follow Chesapeake’s lead and institute their own employee garden. You don’t need an entire city block or hundreds of employees to have a productive and beautiful garden.  The benefits for your company and employees include: improving the quality of life for garden participants; stimulating social interaction; encouraging self-reliance; producing nutritious food for employee families and for local nonprofit organizations; reducing family food costs; conserving resources; creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education; promoting green initiatives and adding a unique and visually appealing aspect to your company setting.

The employee garden is a win for your company, a win for your employees and a win for the community. As we salute Chesapeake Energy for establishing an employee garden, we look forward to doing the same with others as employee gardens spring up throughout the state.

For more information on starting a community garden in the workplace, visit our Urban Harvest page or contact Bruce Edwards at bedwards@regionalfoodbank.org or 405-604-7108.

Rodney Bivens

Rodney Bivens

Rodney Bivens is the Executive Director of the Regional Food Bank. He founded the organization in 1980.
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On June 29, Chesapeake Energy employees gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Chesapeake Employee Garden. In addition to a special presentation from CEO Aubrey McClendon and a Native American blessing by Chief Gordon Yellowman, employees sipped on organic micro-brew and listened to the bluegrass melodies of Buffalo Fitz.

From pepper plants to marigolds, the garden offers a multitude of vegetation while providing the opportunity to be more personally sustainable in a fun, collaborative space, as well as showing employees and their families and friends how to grow a successful garden and prepare meals with the produce.

All gardening levels are welcome – from beginners to avid gardeners. Participants make up what is referred to as the Green Thumb Club and employees and their family members can hone their gardening techniques in a community setting. Through the process, garden participants are with provided educational classes, resources and professional guidance.

Gardening doesn’t serve just as an alternate way to fill one’s refrigerator. Gardening stimulates social interaction, reduces food costs, conserves resources, encourages self-reliance, and creates opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education – conveniently located near Chesapeake’s main campus.

The Chesapeake Employee Garden is located between Shartel and Lee avenues and NW 62nd and 61st streets and is comprised of raised bed plots reserved for planting and harvesting a wide range of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Two garden quadrants share a central common area including a rinsing and cleaning area and an outdoor table and seating area for gardeners to socialize, share tips and take a break from the summer heat.

Any excess produce will be donated to Food Bank and partner agencies like BritVil Community Food Pantry.

For more information, e-mail employeegarden@chk.com. See more photos of the garden on Flickr!

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright is the Marketing Coordinator at the Regional Food Bank. Natalie manages social media for the organization. Connect with her on Twitter (@rfbo) and Facebook!
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Volunteering is Fun!

My schedule finally developed an opening, so off to the Food Bank I went to experience a morning of packing food boxes. And yes, it was that easy! When I arrived, Jamie Treadaway had us sign in and then we went to the packing floor.

I was totally impressed with the organization and the cheerful attitude of the staff and team leaders. I was assigned to work with group of teenagers from a Catholic group in Texas. Let me tell you, they came to work! There was no standing around, but at the same time, we all settled into a nice rhythm of work. The pallets of food quickly turned into boxes of mixed food to be distributed to those in need. Our team leaders sang the praises of the group for the hard work and diligence of getting the job done in great fashion.

The experience was outstanding and it gave me a feeling of real accomplishment knowing that each can or package of food we touched was going to make some family’s living situation better. What a great service to the 500,000 people that face hunger in Oklahoma EACH day! Thanks to the staff for a wonderful morning at the Food Bank! I’ll be back soon and I’m bringing friends with me this time!



$100,000 Walmart Grant Opportunity

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is one of only five local nonprofit organizations that have been selected by Walmart to be a part of their Associates Choice Program in Oklahoma! With enough votes from our wonderful Walmart and Sam’s Club Associates, the Regional Food Bank could receive a generous $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation!

Associates at Walmart and Sam’s Club in Oklahoma will determine which organization receives the grant based upon their votes between July 9th and August 13th.  If you’re a Walmart or Sam’s Club employee, please check with your store manager on the voting process or simply go to http://mywalmart.com to vote!

And Food Bank supporters, if you know Walmart and Sam’s Club Associates, please let them know about the work we’re doing in the community to fight hunger and encourage them to vote!

No matter which nonprofit organization you vote for, it will help someone in our local community – so please be sure to vote!

An additional $100,000 for the Regional Food Bank would make a significant impact on the lives of Oklahomans who are struggling to put food on their table.  In fact, $100,000 will provide 700,000 meals to the community.  That’s enough for three meals a day for nearly 2,000 families of four for an entire month!

Jennifer Arlan

Jennifer Arlan

Jennifer Arlan is the Development Manager at the Regional Food Bank. To book a tour of the Food Bank, contact Jennifer at 405-600-3155 or jarlan@regionalfoodbank.org.
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