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Walmart Foundation Fights Childhood Hunger

$40,000 Grant Benefits Regional Food Bank

July 6, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Walmart Foundation’s generous grant of $40,000 through its State Giving Program is benefiting the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Food for Kids programs.  The Foundation’s partnership and support will assist the nonprofit in meeting children’s basic nutritional needs throughout central and western Oklahoma. Last year, Walmart committed $2 billion in cash and in-kind donations to fight hunger.

“Nearly twenty percent of all children in Oklahoma struggle with hunger every day,” said Rodney W. Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank.  “No child should ever go to bed with the pain of hunger. We thank Walmart for their continued support and their compassion for hungry children.”

Over one-third, or 15,000, of the Regional Food Bank's emergency food recipients on a weekly basis are children. Since there is a critical connection between childhood nutrition and cognitive and physical development, even nutritional deficiencies of a relatively short-term nature negatively impact a child's health, behavior and the ability to concentrate and perform complex tasks.

“Food is the most essential school supply,” said Bivens.  “Hungry children cannot learn.”

The Regional Food Bank serves children directly through four programs in its Childhood Hunger Initiative:

  • The Summer Feeding program offers free breakfast and/or lunch to children 18 and younger at nearly 30 sites around the metro.  Last summer, the Regional Food Bank provided more than 75,000 meals to children through the Summer Feeding program. 
  • The Backpack Program is an emergency feeding program for chronically hungry elementary school children. Children, who might have very little or nothing to eat between school lunch on Friday and school breakfast on Monday, are given a backpack filled with nutritious, kid-friendly food every weekend and holiday throughout the school year.  Last school year, the program served more than 11,500 chronically hungry children in 374 schools in 49 central and western counties. 
  • Kids Cafe sites provide a safe haven for nearly 1,100 at-risk children where they can receive a nutritious meal or snack and educational activities after school. In the summer, the program provides breakfast, lunch and/or an afternoon snack.
  • The Regional Food Bank is currently piloting a School Pantry program to reach hungry students in middle school and high school. The program is established at Putnam City West and Western Heights, with 21 additional schools currently on a waitlist, pending funding.

“Many of the students we serve are concerned with adult problems like whether the bills are going to get paid or whether the car is working,” said one Backpack Program site coordinator from Bryant Elementary school.  “I can tell that having this food takes away some of the stress of whether or not they will have enough to eat over the weekend.”

In addition to fighting childhood hunger, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is one of only five local nonprofit organizations that have been selected to be a part of the Walmart and Sam’s Club “Associates Choice Program” in Oklahoma.  Walmart and Sam’s Club Associates have the opportunity to vote, between June 18th and August 6th, for which nonprofit they would like to receive a $50,000 donation from the Walmart Foundation.  All finalists will receive a $10,000 donation from Walmart.  The Regional Food Bank encourages Walmart and Sam’s Club employees to go to http://www.myWal-Mart .com to vote.

For more information about the Regional Food Bank, or to make a donation, call 405.972.1111 or visit www.regionalfoodbank.org

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is a private, 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that acts as a link through which the food industry and community may donate food and other goods. The products are then distributed to more than 750 schools and charitable feeding programs in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. In the last fiscal year, the Regional Food Bank distributed 46.1 million pounds of food and product to help the charitable community effectively feed people in need. Since its inception in 1980, the Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 400 million pounds of food to feed Oklahoma’s hungry.  Visit regionalfoodbank.org to learn more.

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