Some children in Oklahoma are hungry, and more volunteers are needed to help feed them, faith-based groups were told Thursday.
More than 50 representatives from numerous faith-based organizations gathered Thursday for a hunger conference sponsored by the state Department of Human Services. The conference served as a chance to promote state programs to faith groups who could apply for help in paying for food and supplies to help feed the hungry.
Between the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, which together serve all 77 counties, about 33 million pounds of food were delivered to Oklahoma families in fiscal year 2005, acording to the most recent data collected. About three-fourths of all food pantries, kitchens and shelters in Oklahoma are run by faith-based agencies, according to the Hunger in America 2006 report.
Yvette Bruff with the state Education Department urged conference attendees to volunteer for the agency's Summer Food Service Program. Groups in the program feed children healthy meals during summer months, when they can't rely on school breakfasts and lunches. In return, the organization is reimbursed with federal funds to help cover the food costs.
This summer, the program was responsible for 1 million meals at 400 different feeding sites, she said. But the program remains underused.
"It is a well-kept secret,” Bruff said. "When school is over, it doesn't mean that family's income has changed.”
Nancy McCullough, also with the Education Department, promoted the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which works with day cares, churches, shelters and adult day cares to feed those in need.