In the last 22 days, Governor Mary Fallin and allies in the private sector have raised, with a combination of direct contributions and cash, the equivalent of 1,627,641 meals for Oklahomans in need. Distribution of the gathered resources will be handled by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK after a Blue Room press conference, Fallin reflected, “We’ve had a very successful Feeding Oklahoma food drive this year.”
After last winter’s inaugural effort brought in resources for approximately 700,000 meals, this year, “We have doubled the amount of food that we’re going to be able to provide, the number of meals we’re going to be able to provide, in Oklahoma.”
Fallin continued, “You know, Oklahoma is actually ranked the fifth hungriest state in the nation. One in four children go hungry at various times during the week. So, this is an important drive, especially as we start the holiday season, with Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, this will go a long ways in providing 1.6 million meals to our fellow Oklahomans.”
While the state economy is better than in many other places, with low unemployment and comparatively robust growth in tax revenues, Oklahoma still faces challenges providing essential social services through the private sector.
Fallin said, “Our economy in Oklahoma is doing better. We’re very fortunate that Oklahoma doesn’t have as high of an unemployment rate as other states do. But the fact of the matter is that we still have people who are struggling, people who are unemployed.
“Our food stamp cases are up 40 percent this year. So, it’s important during this holiday season that we remember that Oklahoma spirit – which is a giving spirit – and help our neighbors.
“Certainly, this Feeding Oklahoma food drive will go a long ways. I encourage all Oklahomans to be thankful for what they have, but also to remember there are a lot of people in Oklahoma who have great needs. Give generously during this holiday season.”
The drive benefiting the Food Bank of Oklahoma (based in Oklahoma City) and the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank (based in Tulsa) began three weeks ago with an objective of providing 1 million meals. The drive gathered 500,460 pounds and raised $233,451 specifically for this drive, Fallin said.
Students from Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School provided 5,000 pounds worth of canned food items for a sculpture in the Blue Room that included an Oklahoma City Thunder theme. McGuinness students gathered a total of 80,000 pounds of food for this year’s drive, officials said.
Boy Scouts gathered canned food items door to door in MidTown Oklahoma City neighborhoods and elsewhere in the metropolitan area. Many churches and other groups also fed into the drive, and regularly provide support to the Food Bank.
Participating with Fallin in the Capitol press conference were Rodney Blevins of the Food Bank, Bryan Gonterman of AT&T Oklahoma, Mike Thompson of BP (the Oklahoma and Kansas region) and other volunteers.
Supporters of the drive included many of the state’s leading corporations, such as energy giants Devon, Chesapeake and Conoco Phillips, as well as Love’s Country Stores, UPS, BancFirst,OneOK, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, City National, Globe Life, Associated General Contractors, Lamar advertising, and others.