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As in Oklahoma, poverty nationwide has moved to the suburbs, report says

In Oklahoma City, a shift in need for food aid and health care reflects the national trend outlined in a new Brookings Institution report.
by William Crum Modified: May 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm •  Published: May 21, 2013

Pockets of poverty

Scott Burcher, chief administrative officer of Variety Care, which operates community health centers, said his organization finds pockets of poverty often are hidden in affluent areas.

Schools also are calling seeking primary medical care for students.

“That's another area where we see it popping up,” he said.

Seemingly small changes can make a significant difference, said Billy Shore, founder of Share Our Strength, a national organization dedicated to erasing childhood hunger.

In conjunction with the report's release, Shore said an initiative to provide breakfast to more schoolchildren at first ran into objections. It called for serving food in classrooms instead of cafeterias.

Serving breakfast in the cafeteria was a stigma for some children, and required them to arrive early, Shore said. The idea was to devote the first 10 minutes of the day to breakfast.

Once the change was made, teachers found it actually increased classroom instructional time “because every kid is in every seat on time.”

Meeting qualifications for government funding can be a chore, said speakers related to the Brookings' report, who urged greater flexibility matched by accountability for reaching goals for such things as meals served and patients treated.

Breaching those kinds of barriers often takes time, said Burcher, Variety Care's chief administrative officer in Oklahoma City.

“It can be a daunting process,” he said.

by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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