29

Nov

Take a Bite Out of Hunger


Perry, Oklahoma students team up with Travis & Presley and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in the fight against hunger. The class that collects the most cans will ride on the Adventures with Travis and Presley float in the Christmas parade. The grade that raises the most cans will receive a performance from Travis and Presley. Do your part this holiday season to give back to your community just as these children are doing!

Travis Brorsen & Presley

Winner of the “Greatest American Dog” TV Show

24

Nov


Last week was my final orientation outing to learn about the people and services offered by the Regional Food Bank, and it was incredible.  The orientation journey that all employees have to go through when they are first hired is an eye opening experience.

On Thursday, my first stop of the day was at a Senior Living Center.  I pulled up and waited in my car till the Regional Food Bank semi-truck full of food showed up.  When it did, I followed it to the back, parked, and then walked inside to meet the manager and to ask where we needed to set up.  It was the first cold day of the season.  A little too cold for everyone to be outside so we pulled some of the tables together inside to lay out the food available for the seniors.  The residents were swarming around the tables before we could even unload the truck.  By the time we were able to put all the food out, it seemed as if the whole senior center was there and extremely eager to pick out their food.  There were apples, ham, turkey, milk, chocolate milk, salad, dressings, bread, bagels, tortillas, canned goods and a few “sweet” treats.  I was impressed by how much food the Food Bank was able to offer these fixed-income seniors.  And, I was surprised at how each person only took what they needed because they wanted to make sure everyone had food.  In society today, I’ve met so many people who take because they want it or because it’s there and not think about anyone else, but not these kind souls.  They wanted to make sure everyone had enough to eat.

Everyone was so extremely grateful.  I’ve never been thanked so much for anything.  And, all I did was show up and help pass out the food.  I hadn’t donated this food, or really taken the time out of my day to do this.  I was told to go and so I went, but this experience of seeing their faces and knowing how much they needed this help and how they were so thankful that we were there, really opened my eyes and touched my heart.  These people really need the Food Bank and everyone that donates and volunteers.  This experience will always be a reminder to me of why we need to keep collecting more food, getting more people involved and donating time and money.  There are real people out there that need help, and I see why it’s so important for every person to help in any way they can.

Jill Smith

Jill Smith

Jill Smith is the Manager of Interactive Media at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. In 2008, she graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Master’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising.
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22

Nov

Do What You Can


I am once again honored to partner with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma for our 3rd annual Thanksgiving Fund Drive Concert.  With all the exciting things happening in Oklahoma and our community, we can’t forget our fellow Oklahomans who are still hungry.  We must do all we can to take care of each other, and I hope a night of great music will help the cause.  I have never been more proud to be an Oklahoman and am honored to call Oklahoma home.  Oklahoma is home to the friendliest and most giving people in the country and we must take care of each other!

Graham Colton

18

Nov

Finding the Best Daily Deals with Wimgo


With everything that’s going on today, everyone is trying to save a buck.  And while we’re all pinching pennies and clipping coupons, why not also check out the daily Wimgo Deals.

One of the best things about Wimgo Deals is not only are you saving money on purchases, but you are also helping to support the Charity of the Month.  This month, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma was chosen by Wimgo to receive up to 10 percent of all purchases in November.

Wimgo Deals features a new Daily Deal.  Local businesses partner with Wimgo to share amazing deals of their products to Wimgo’s online community.  Every day Wimgo features a new deal that’s only available for that day except Friday’s deal is available till Sunday night.  The deals can include restaurant gift certificates, spa packages, hotels and much more for a fraction of the actual cost.  If you want the deal, then you better buy it quick before it sells out.  Also, every deal only becomes active when enough people buy the daily deal.  So make sure you pass the great offer on to your friends, and that way everyone can get awesome deals!

Jill Smith

Jill Smith

Jill Smith is the Manager of Interactive Media at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. In 2008, she graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Master’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising.
Read more articles by Jill


15

Nov

Child Nutrition: Put on Top of Congress’ Agenda


In Oklahoma, 1 in every 5 children is at risk of hunger every day.  I can’t imagine that this statistic is any more acceptable to you than it is to me.   With your partnership and support, we are working hard to change this by feeding children after school, on weekends and over the summer.  But it’s not enough.  Far too many low-income children still lack the nutritious food they need to be healthy and successful.

Over the last year, Congress has been considering legislation that impacts both the children we serve and the programs we operate.  The child nutrition bill provides an opportunity to reduce child hunger by improving and strengthening child nutrition programs, such as the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); and after school, weekend and summer nutrition programs.

With just two legislative weeks left this year, we need to make sure Congress puts passing the child nutrition bill at the top of their agenda when they return to work this week.  Congress will make this bill a priority if they believe it’s important to their constituents.  Please help us show them that it is.

Here are 3 ways you can help:

1. USE YOUR VOICE

Contact your Members of Congress and deliver a clear message:  All Oklahoma children should have access to nutritious food.  Congress must make the child nutrition bill a priority.

2. RAISE AWARENESS

Share Feeding America’s video on child hunger and obesity with your family, friends, and co-workers.

3. SPREAD THE WORD

Join the social media campaign to put the child nutrition bill back on Congress’ radar and build momentum to pass this legislation.

Ashley Stokes

Ashley Stokes

Ashley Stokes is the Advocacy & Public Policy Manager at the Regional Food Bank. She graduated from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 2009.
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12

Nov


As of today, I have officially been an AmeriCorps member for two months.  After two months you would probably expect me to know everything it is that I do.  Well, I hate to break it to you but I don’t.  At least, if you asked me to tell you straight off the bat all the duties I’m in charge of I’d probably go blank and give you a deer in the headlights look.  I work at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma as the public awareness development AmeriCorps Member.  I work in the marketing/development department and generally my day-to-day activities vary. I might be working on a press release one minute and the next minute I’m hauling boxes to schools and businesses and helping them with food drives.  I have a set list of goals I want to achieve and I have my timesheet goals set and ready to go but I don’t have any of it memorized and in answering the question of just what it is I actually do I give them  a stock answer.

“I write press releases, help with food drives and assist the marketing department.” It doesn’t sum up everything I do but it suffices.  And I’m not trying to sell myself short in terms of my ability; I just have a bad memory when it comes to lists.

I work with other AmeriCorps members as well and their jobs vary greatly from mine.  When asking them what exactly they do at the Food Bank their answers more or less resembled my answer.  So for the blog post I will give you a narrow view of what it’s like to work at a normal, frenzied day at the Food Bank.

Mason:

Mason was very elaborate in explaining his duties at the Food Bank, but articulating a flurry of thoughts, punctuated by a vocabulary that would make an Oxford English Dictionary editor blush is part of Mason’s game.  Mason’s job as the Kids Cafe Fresh Foods Coordinator is to visit Kids Cafe sites and talk to kids about the importance of eating healthy. He puts on demonstrations where kids learn to cook for themselves. His main aim is to show kids that they can provide meals for themselves by using affordable everyday ingredients.  Gourmet is not the goal but liberating kids from habitually eating junky foods is. Although Mason acknowledges that the students he teaches won’t necessarily be able to espouse the virtues of frisee salad just being able to witness a measured improvement in the kids’ ability to learn the basics of cooking is more than enough.

Mark:

Mark’s job involves lots of numbers, surveys and data analysis.  He works in agency capacity development and part of his job is developing surveys for agencies that help him and the Food Bank get an idea of what happens at our agencies and what they need in order to maintain efficient operations.

While talking to Mark I couldn’t help but notice the Spartan-like sparseness of his office walls, which was emphasized by the faint echo in the office.  Mark’s done a lot of prep work to get ready for all of his site visits.  Reading large text books (the kind you avoid when you go to the library or use to hold up a cheaply made piece of furniture) and contacting people from food banks across the country. His preparations will come in handy.  Starting this month Mark will be venturing into the unknown with his survey in his ridiculously tiny Mazda Miata.  By the end of the year he will accumulate an obscene amount of mileage on his car since his goal is to visit at least most of the 53 central and western Oklahoma counties.  Mark looks forward to the visits; it will be like a perpetual road trip.

Jamie:

Ah Jamie, Volunteer Recruiter extraordinaire and my next door neighbor.  Jamie is the volunteer recruiter and is really good at it. On average she’ll receive 40 phone calls/voicemails and double the amount of emails.  When I sat down with her to talk about her role at the Food Bank she said she answered lots of phone calls and emails.  Her job isn’t a walk in the park though.  Part of the perks of being her neighbor is eavesdropping on her conversations with potential volunteers.  When it comes to making phone calls and booking individual and group volunteers Jamie is like a customer service expert. She’s super friendly and answers all questions and is patient enough to deal with everyone.  During her first year, she booked countless numbers of volunteers who in total put in thousands of volunteer hours.

John:

John is Jamie’s next door neighbor and our capacity building GAP analysis expert.  I will often hear him shuffle over to her office and answer her questions about recording volunteer information.  Besides recruiting volunteers Jamie has also been working with John with retrieving and storing volunteer information.  During the past year they’ve successfully tracked volunteer information and stored the data in a database John created. He’s pretty much eliminated factors that could cause any errors like duplicate names or Jane and John Doe volunteers and has pretty much created the foundation that will help the food Bank recruit volunteers/potential donors.

John is the computer whiz and he uses all sorts of lingo and jargon that someone like me can barely understand. I’m not a technophobe; I can check emails, update blogs and my Facebook profile page just fine.  I can’t create databases from nothing and I don’t know anything about coding or different computer systems.  John usually starts his day staring at a giant map on his computer screen and is probably in the midst of creating a database for someone in one of the departments. I also frequently see him conversing with Steve Moran, Director of Operations and fellow IT guy.

Dan:

Dan is usually sweating it out with the rest of the volunteers in our Volunteer Center. He works as volunteer retention which involves a lot hauling around product in the Volunteer Center as well as chatting with the volunteers and fostering an atmosphere of general merriment.  Jamie gets volunteers in the door, Dan makes sure they come back.  He’s also been working on Rock N’ Box a weekly event in the Volunteer Center.  Volunteers pack boxes and jam to whatever music happens to coincide with the day’s designated theme (80’s, disco night, Meatloaf appreciation night, etc.)  Generally the Volunteer Center is swamped with people and Dan’s there to make sure everything’s under control.

So that is the whole spiel on what we do at the Food Bank.  We are very few in number and our jobs are diverse but somehow we manage to get things done in the midst of everything that goes on here.

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.
Read more articles by Connie


05

Nov


Each year Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School hosts a Canned Food Drive to support the Regional Food Bank. This year the theme of the canned food drive was AmeriCAN: I Want Food (with a pun to Uncle Sam’s “I want you”). And the “I Want Food” really worked.  We beat last year’s totals and raised $3,500 and more than 45,000 pounds of food, which will provide nearly 60,000 meals to hungry Oklahomans.

The Canned Food Drive has a long running tradition at Bishop McGuinness starting in the late eighties where a can sculpture competition at Penn Square Mall was the extent of the food drive. In recent years, the canned food drive has taken a new form, raising more food than any other student-led food drive. Last year, the Bishop McGuinness Community provided more than 54,000 meals for Oklahomans.

This year I, MK Tyler, was the Senior Chairwoman of the Students Against Hunger Canned Food Drive along with Joe Edmonds who was the Junior Chairman. We began diligently planning the Food and Fund Drive in mid-August and it ran from October 14 through November 3.

We had two main fundraisers throughout the food drive to raise money for the Regional Food Bank. We raised money by selling t-shirts and letting people dress up for Halloween for a $3 donation.

Another incentive we used to motivate students to bring in cans was allowing them to wear jeans and a t-shirt for a week at our all uniform school if they brought in their personal goal.

The Canned Food Drive at McGuinness is unique because it is the only school wide service project.  Also since McGuinness is a faith based school, it is more than just bringing in cans.  It helps students look beyond themselves and see how they are helping a community need.

As I was sitting at my desk munching away at a popcorn ball and debating the merits of consuming my favorite starchy snack in a comically large spherical form, I decided to do a little research on the origins of the popcorn ball. I didn’t find anything and referred instead to a fellow AmeriCorps member, Mason, who possesses a freakish encyclopedic knowledge about food. When I told him I’d eaten a popcorn ball out of curiosity and revealed to him that I’d never heard of such a thing before, he was both shocked and a little repulsed. He then went on to explain the significance of popcorn and the popcorn ball during 18th century America, due to its non-perishable state and abundance post-harvest season. That’s the cliff notes version of it, but the point I’m trying to make is that Mason knows a lot about food. He knows so much he talks about if for a living by going out to Kids Cafe sites and teaching kids about the importance of eating right.

I decided to go out to a Kids Cafe site during one of Mason’s monthly visits and got to watch him make smoothies for the students at Lambuth United Methodist Church.

Mason at Kid’s Cafe

At Kids Cafe, students who are enrolled in the program participate in educational activities that teach them about the importance of eating nutritious foods. They also receive tutoring, mentoring, homework assistance and engage in character building activities. The program provides a safe environment where students can grow as individuals.  For that day’s lesson, Mason had the students help in making pumpkin pie smoothies.  (If you’re interested in making a smoothie for yourself, check out the recipe below). Now, it’s important to note the difficulty in teaching children. Teachers fall in either one of two categories: they’re either sickly sweet like Ms. Honey of Roald Dahl fame or as terrifying as a Sister Act nun.  Mason doesn’t personify either character; he’s a character unto himself. It’s kind of hard explaining his teaching style, but it was impressive seeing him keep the students engaged in the cooking lesson. They read out the ingredients with enthusiasm and were always willing to lend a helping hand in the kitchen. He was even able to slyly incorporate a quick math lesson with the use of measuring spoons and a blender.

When I talked to site coordinator, Donna Jones, she gave me a tour of the classroom.  I walked past a parade of colorful drawings and watched as Donna rifled through old curriculum books from current and past students.  Students learn about a variety of topics, like cultural diversity and environmental conservation and all the activities that take place in the classroom are dedicated to learning about each topic. Students stay within the program from 1st to 5th grade and grow closer to their classmates and teacher during those years. I asked Donna if students ever remember the lessons they’ve learned as children and she mentions that not only do they remember they also come back to visit on occasion.

When I went to the Kids Cafe site I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be greeted by a group of apathetic children or a bunch of tiny terrors? Fortunately, I didn’t meet either when I entered the classroom.  And, I also walked away learning a little more about the program. When I first got there I knew about the basics of the program but when I left, I realized Kids Cafe is more than just an after school program.  For the kids, they leave with lifelong friends and memories.

Recipe for Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 cup low-fat milk

½ frozen banana

½ cup canned pumpkin

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp honey

Pinch of salt

4 ice cubes

1.        Pour milk, banana, pumpkin, honey, and spices into the blender container.

2.       Run on low for 15 seconds, then kick it up to high for another 10.

3.       Add the ice cubes and blend on high until smooth.

4.       You should be able to drink it with a straw. If it’s too thick, add more milk. If it’s too

thin, add more ice.

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.
Read more articles by Connie