(OKLAHOMA CITY) – Nov. 9, 2017 – Veterans Day is a time to honor those who have served in the U.S. military. However, too many veterans are living with hunger. Nearly 10 percent of the 276,000 veterans living in Oklahoma receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is concerned that many of these veterans are facing inconsistent access to healthy food.
“It’s so very important that we don’t forget about our veterans,” said Katie Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of the Regional Food Bank. “They were trained to be self-sufficient and asking for help isn’t easy for them. The more than 24,000 veterans who are SNAP recipients in Oklahoma tells us that they are struggling to make ends meet.”
SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is the nation’s largest domestic hunger program. People can only use SNAP to purchase food items for the eligible household.
According to a report just released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, nearly 1.5 million low-income veterans receiving SNAP at any point during the last year. Of that number, more than 24,000 veterans in Oklahoma received the benefits. The report also states that people receiving SNAP are working in low-wage jobs or have disabilities and that SNAP provides an essential support that helps them obtain nutritious food for their families but too often the benefits aren’t enough to provide for an entire month.
For Navy veteran Keisha, a single mother raising two teenagers, asking for help has been difficult and the SNAP benefits she receives just aren’t enough for her family.
"I've never asked for help in my life," she said. "I think a lot of people think because you're a veteran that you have special privileges but homelessness and being hungry do not discriminate."
Keisha recently discovered the Moore Food & Resource Center that is owned and operated by the Regional Food Bank. The FRC provides a client-choice environment that allows individuals and families like Keisha’s to select the foods they need and want in a setting similar to a grocery store. An emphasis is placed on nutritious foods, especially fresh produce. The FRC also offers access to other services such as job training information and additional resources to help improve the clients’ economic stability. There are 14 FRC locations in the Regional Food Bank’s 53-county service area.
"The last thing you want to do is go to bed at night thinking if your kids are going to have a meal the next day, if they're going to be hungry," said Keisha. "Without places like the Moore FRC, you wouldn't just have to worry about lights or electricity being cut off, you'd have to worry about kids starving because there's not enough resources without places like food banks."
To help increase food assistance to veterans, the Regional Food Bank has also formed partnerships with the Veterans Affairs and community-based partner agencies who are serving veterans at risk of becoming homeless. For the past several years, the Regional Food Bank has worked with Oklahoma Goodwill Industries’ Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program that offers homelessness prevention and rehousing services to help support and maintain long-term housing stability. The Regional Food Bank provides nutritious food to veterans in the SSVF program who are living with hunger.
Together, we can solve hunger for veterans. To make a donation, please visit regionalfoodbank.org/donate or call 405-972-1111.
About the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is the state’s largest hunger-relief organization and a member of Feeding America’s network of Food Banks. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit provides enough food to feed more than 136,000 hungry Oklahomans each week through a network of more than 1,300 schools and charitable feeding programs in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. Since its inception in 1980, the Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 613 million pounds of food to feed Oklahoma’s hungry. For more information, visit http://www.regionalfoodbank.org; find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/regionalfoodbank or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rfbo.