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New Study Shows 26 Percent of Oklahoma County Children Struggles with Hunger

Map the Meal Gap Child Food Insecurity 2011:  Data at the Local Level for the First Time

August 29, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, released a new study which reveals 26 percent of children under the age of 18 in Oklahoma County struggle with hunger.  Statewide, the number children that are food insecure jumped from one in five to one in four.

“No child should have to go to bed with the pains of hunger in their stomach,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.  “Children should not have to worry about where their next meal will come from, or even if they will have a next meal.  Working together, we can fight childhood hunger in Oklahoma.”

The study, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity,” provides the following data for Oklahoma County in an interactive map format:

  • The percentage of the Oklahoma County population who is food insecure.
  • The percentage of children in Oklahoma County that is eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.
  • The percentage of children in Oklahoma County that is not eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.

 “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011” also reveals there are children struggling with hunger in every county in America.  An executive summary of the report can be found at: feedingamerica.org/mapthegap/childsummary .

Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the nation, where nearly 600,000 people are food insecure.  The Regional Food Bank provides enough food to help feed more than 90,000 people each week.  The majority of those served by the nonprofit are children, seniors living on fixed incomes and working families who cannot make ends meet. 

“In spite of the Food Bank increasing its distribution over 80% the last three years and providing a record 46.2 million pounds in Fiscal Year 2011, the demand for food continues to outstrip our supply,” said Bivens.

The Regional Food Bank fights childhood hunger through food distribution at partner agencies throughout central and western Oklahoma, as well as these three direct service programs:

  • The Food for Kids Backpack Program is an emergency food assistance program designed especially for children.  Children identified as chronically hungry by school personnel are able to receive a backpack filled with non-perishable, kid-friendly food for over the weekend or a school holiday. Last year, more than 10,000 children in this program in 374 schools in 49 central and western Oklahoma counties.  Through September 30th, all donations made to the Regional Food Bank’s Food for Kids Backpack Program will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000.
  • The Summer Feeding Program provides children 18 and under with a nutritious breakfast and/or lunch during the summer.  The program is for children who depend on federally-funded free and reduced meals during the school year.  During the summer, thousands of Oklahoma children are at risk of going hungry without access to their schools’ free or reduced-price meals.
  • Kids Cafe is an afterschool and summer program that provides food, mentoring, tutoring, and a variety of other activities to approximately 850 at-risk children at 17 sites in 5 counties in central and western Oklahoma, serving 750 kids.

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

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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 nearly 825 schools and charitable feeding programs in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. In fiscal year 2011, the Food Bank distributed 46.2 million pounds of food and product to help the charitable community effectively feed people in need. Since its inception in 1980, the Food Bank has distributed more than 460 million pounds of food to feed Oklahoma’s hungry. Visit regionalfoodbank.org or scan the QR code below to learn more.

About Feeding America

Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit http://www.feedingamerica.org. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow our news on Twitter at twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.

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