(OKLAHOMA CITY) – Aug. 5, 2020 – In Oklahoma, one in four children lives with food insecurity, a number expected to worsen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. The Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma, Dolese Bros., Mark and Beth Brewer, David and Lezlie Hudiburg and David Gorham have issued the Food for Kids Match challenge. Through Sept. 30, every donation made to the Regional Food Bank’s Food for Kids Programs will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $160,000.
“The Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma and Masonic Lodges across the state are again committing our efforts to support the Food for Kids Match campaign,” said John Logan, executive director of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma. “This incredible campaign allows our lodges to make a meaningful contribution to the benefit of children and families across our state.”
According to Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap, one in four children in Oklahoma are food insecure. Feeding America's The Impact of the Coronavirus on Local Food Insecurity report projects that Oklahoma's child food insecurity rate could climb to nearly one in three Oklahoma children.
"In the last year, the Food for Kids Programs provided more than 2.8 million meals to nearly 42,000 chronically hungry children," said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. "The programs have always played a crucial role in providing food to Oklahoma children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs take on an even more important role in providing meals to children during challenging times.”
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional Food Bank's Food for Kids Programs have been at work providing nutritious meals to children across central and western Oklahoma. While Oklahoma schools were still in session, the Regional Food Bank began sending individual components of the Backpack Program to schools so they could continue to safely provide meals and snacks for children who participate in the program.
By April, Summer Feeding Program sites were established to provide grab-and-go meals for children up to the age of 18. In a typical summer, the Regional Food Bank would support 130 Summer Feeding sites across central and western Oklahoma. The COVID-19 pandemic limited the number of Summer Feeding sites to approximately 70 in operation but led to above-average numbers of meals and snacks served.
The School Pantry Program plays an important role during the school year, providing chronically hungry middle and high school students with food to sustain them after school and over the weekends. In the past year, the program saw a 10% increase by serving 7,274 students at 179 schools.
The Regional Food Bank's Kids Cafés provide meals and snacks to children participating in afterschool and school break programs. Last year, Kids Café locations served a total of 6,779 children at 51 sites.
Typically, a $100 donation would provide enough food to support a child in the Food for Kids Program for an entire year. With the match, the donation would provide enough food to support two students for an entire year.
Donations can be made by visiting foodforkids.us or by calling 405-600-3136.