by Chris Bernard, Executive Director
It takes all of us to solve big, systemic problems like hunger in Oklahoma. From our very beginning, Hunger Free Oklahoma employees, partners, and providers came with one mindset: “Working together, we can create a hunger free Oklahoma.” Thank you for your support of HFO or any of our 600 partners over the last four years. It is making a difference!
2020 has been unlike any other year. One in five Oklahomans are struggling to put food on the table for themselves and their families. The health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt by our most vulnerable and tens of thousands of Oklahomans who have never found themselves in need before now. Your support is the only way Hunger Free Oklahoma can reach more people and adapt our response to these unprecedented times. This pandemic, its impact on our neighbors, and the response of our community have made it crystal clear – it takes all of us.
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunger Free Oklahoma went to work supporting the ever-changing needs of our partners, identifying gaps and seeking resources to fill them, advocating for emergency changes and flexibilities to nutrition programs, and pushing essential information to our partners, the public, and decision makers.
As a result of coordinated efforts, we have seen huge successes. For example:
- Systems: Community partnerships and services increased through the availability and accessibility of HFO’s digital resources, trainings, and through the creation of a statewide SNAP Application Hotline.
- Policies: Hundreds of millions of dollars returned to Oklahoma to help food insecure Oklahomans through the extension of child nutrition waivers, increase of SNAP benefits, and the distribution of Pandemic EBT.
- Practices: Through an extensive education campaign and targeted technical assistance, HFO equipped more than 1,200 organizations with information and tools they needed to serve food insecure Oklahomans. Other examples include 430,000 emergency meals delivered by mail to 6,659 Oklahoma children in 20 rural school districts and the creation and implementation of Tulsa Kitchens Unite which supported 23 local restaurants to provide over 360,000 meals to struggling families during the COVID-19 shutdown.
As we look to 2021, we plan to build off of our work from 2020 by:
- Increasing children in-need’s access to summer meal programs;
- Implementing a statewide SNAP Outreach Plan to reach all SNAP-eligible Oklahomans;
- Advancing state and federal level policies to increase access to food resources for children and adults; and
- Expanding low-income Oklahomans’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables in rural areas through our Double Up Oklahoma program.
Our ability to respond to the growing number of food insecure Oklahomans is not possible without the generosity of Hunger Free Oklahoma’s financial supporters. As we near the end of the calendar year, we invite you to invest in Hunger Free Oklahoma. The money you give will help HFO support 600 partner agencies across the state, bring millions of dollars back to our state, and positively change the trajectory of food insecure Oklahomans in 2021. Donating by December 31, 2020 will make your tax-deductible donation count for 2020. Giving is easy, you can make a gift online by using HFO’s secure website at HungerFreeOK.org/Donate.
At HFO, we are grateful every day to be able to work towards our mission, but in these last 8 months the support from our community has been awe inspiring. We are overwhelmed with gratitude. We appreciate any year-end support and investment in our work as we help Oklahomans meet their most basic nutritional needs in these tough days.
Give the gift of a Hunger Free Oklahoma.
Donate to Hunger Free Oklahoma in honor of your family and friends. HFO will send them a customized Hunger Free Oklahoma 2020 Holiday Card acknowledging your gift in their name. If donating online, add the name and address of the person you wish to honor this holiday season in the additional information box on the website.