The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma raised nearly $3.55 million during its just-completed campaign against hunger, bolstered by a $1 million challenge grant from Chesapeake Energy Corp.
It was the third year in a row the Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company has pledged to match up to $1 million in donations to the food bank during the two-month campaign that ran through the holidays.
“We want to thank Chesapeake and the community for stepping up to fight hunger during the holiday season,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. “Hunger is a year-round issue for many Oklahomans.
“This match, and the donations from the community, are truly transformational and will ensure that many of our neighbors won't go hungry this winter.”
Officials said the Chesapeake-boosted contributions will allow the food bank to provide more than 17.75 million meals for hungry families, children and seniors in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties.
“By pledging to match contributions up to $1 million, Chesapeake sought to turn our gift to the food bank into a catalyst for even more contributions to feed the more than 675,000 Oklahomans at risk of going hungry every day,” said Martha Burger, Chesapeake's senior vice president for human and corporate resources.
“We are delighted to hear our match once again inspired the community to give generously to help their fellow Oklahomans,” she said.
The future of Chesapeake's matching pledge is in question, as the company announced earlier this month it would begin slashing its charitable giving.
Chesapeake has not commented on its plan to halve its spending on charitable spending, trade association dues and lobbying by 2015 since disclosing it in a Jan. 7 filing.
Last year, the food bank raised $3.37 million with Chesapeake's help. That provided more than 16.85 million meals to hungry Oklahomans.
The food bank provides enough food to feed 90,000 Oklahomans each week, with demand growing.
“The food bank helps provide our students with food when they would not otherwise have food on the weekends,” said Rejeana Payne, principal of Thelma R. Parks Elementary School in Oklahoma City. “Students are then able to focus on school instead of their hunger.”