Stillwater News Press

Local News

June 4, 2009

Food pantries, kitchens serve Stillwater

STILLWATER — What is the value of a hot meal or a bag of groceries?

Most people can put a monetary value on it, but for some it is worth so much more.

According to Dawn Burroughs, chief marketing officer at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the need for food in pantries has increased 35 percent to 50 percent.

“Food pantries were posting record amounts of people coming in in the last three months of 2008,” Burroughs said.

With the current state of the economy, people who were once in good shape financially are being forced to find other means of feeding their families. Burroughs spoke of a family of five that found itself in a soup kitchen line for the first time. In three months, both parents had been laid off, causing them to lose their $150,000 home and forcing them to live out of their car.

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Marketing Assistant Natalie Wright said the food bank gets its food through food drives; outlet stores, where it receives discounted rates; and some donations. Ninety percent of the food is delivered by truck to the various agencies via the Regional Distribution System.

“Pantries put in orders and we respond as best we can,” Wright said.

Both Burroughs and Wright said the economy has altered the type of people coming into the food banks.

“The face of hunger is changing,” Burroughs said.

The working poor, people who have recently lost their jobs, are being forced to make other arrangements to feed their families. Burroughs said people who are able should donate whatever they can, whether it be food, funds or time.

“We are counting on people who can afford it to step up and help,” she said.

Karan Brunken of the Mehan Union Church food pantry said the number of families attending has increased.

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