Oklahoma native and Country Music Hall of Famer Reba McEntire has made a significant donation to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma after learning about the nonprofit’s Food for Kids program in Kiowa, where she went to school as a youth.
McEntire’s donation will provide more than 200,000 meals for hungry Oklahomans, or feed more than 2,300 families for one week, a food bank spokeswoman told The Oklahoman‘s Food Editor Dave Cathey.
The entertainer didn’t want the amount of her donation disclosed, nor did she have a comment when contacted through her publicist.
A Grammy-winning singer, acclaimed Broadway actress and popular TV star, McEntire was born in McAlester, raised on a ranch in Chockie and graduated from Kiowa High School.
“We are thankful for this generous donation from Reba McEntire,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank, in the announcement. “No child should ever have to go to bed with the pains of hunger in their stomach.”
One in four children in Oklahoma will struggle with hunger today, according to food bank statistics. The Regional Food Bank serves more than 46,000 children every week through partner agencies and its Food for Kids childhood hunger programs: the Backpack Program, Kids Cafe, and School Pantries.
Through the Regional Food Bank’s Food for Kids Backpack Program, elementary school students receive healthy, kid-friendly meals over the weekends throughout the school year. Kids Café, an afterschool and summer program, provides food, mentoring, tutoring and a variety of other activities to about 900 at-risk children at 16 sites in central and western Oklahoma. The School Pantry program provides pantries full of food at middle and high schools in central and Western Oklahoma.
Children from food insecure households are more likely than their food secure peers to experience higher rates of various forms of educational problems. They are at least 50 percent more likely to miss days of school (1.6 times), nearly twice as likely to be suspended (1.95 times) and almost 50 percent more likely to have to repeat a grade (1.44 times), according to the food bank.
The Regional Food Bank is dedicated to “Fighting Hunger.Feeding Hope.” The organization plans on expanding the program until it is available in every elementary school in its 53 central and Western Oklahoma county service area.
Established in 1980, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is the largest private hunger-relief organization in the state. In fiscal year 2011, the Food Bank distributed 46.2 million pounds of food and products through a network of more than 825 charitable feeding programs and elementary schools in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. Each week, the organization provides enough food to feed more than 90,000 hungry Oklahomans.
Through Jan. 31, Chesapeake Energy Corporation will match all tax-deductible donations made to the Regional Food Bank up to $1 million.
For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, go to www.regionalfoodbank.org.