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Summer feeding sites helping some children who are facing extreme heat as well as hunger

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma works with several partners in Oklahoma City to provide public summer feeding sites for children.
by Bryan Painter Published: July 22, 2011

/articleid/3587731/1/pictures/1470201">Photo - Miracle Medrano, 7, laughs while eating an orange with a few of her friends. The girls are among dozens of children who are receiving healthy snacks and meals through a summer feeding program for children.  Novo Ministries partners with the Regional Food Bank Of Oklahoma to feed the children during the summer months while they are out of school. These children are at Ambassador Courts Community Center.
 <strong>JIM BECKEL - THE OKLAHOMAN</strong>
Miracle Medrano, 7, laughs while eating an orange with a few of her friends. The girls are among dozens of children who are receiving healthy snacks and meals through a summer feeding program for children. Novo Ministries partners with the Regional Food Bank Of Oklahoma to feed the children during the summer months while they are out of school. These children are at Ambassador Courts Community Center. JIM BECKEL - THE OKLAHOMAN

This year, Oak Grove is feeding about 30 to 35 children per day, while another 30 to 45 come to the Ambassador Courts.

At 2:45 on a recent afternoon, Elizabeth Rauch, the Ambassador Courts site coordinator, looks at 31 children — ranging in age from 3 to 17 years — and tells them it's time for the afternoon meal. The littlest ones yell with excitement and form a line to pick up their brown paper bag and a small, cold carton of milk.

Gathering around six tables, they pull sandwiches, tomatoes and either peaches, apples or oranges from the sacks.

Assistance is needed

Among the children are those of Apollonia Murillo, who lives at Ambassador Courts and works for Novo Ministries. She helps with the meals and snacks in the summer feeding and tutors during the school year. Right now her husband is out of work in the construction business and searching for employment.

She is extremely thankful for the summer meals provided by the Regional Food Bank.

“I'm on a budget and a lot of families in this neighborhood are on a budget,” she said. “We're used to sending our kids to school, and they eat two meals at school. When they're out for the summer, sometimes our food budget really doesn't stretch enough for those extra meals.

“So it helps out a lot.”

Since June 13, the official high temperature for Oklahoma City has been lower than 95 degrees only twice, according to the National Weather Service, Norman Forecast Office.

While it's tough to keep a child inside during summer vacation, the heat is dangerous. That's another aspect Murillo appreciates about the program.

“Right now I don't even let my kids go outside,” she said. “When they come here, they're with all their friends who come here and they get to play.

“I am very thankful for the center.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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