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A group of diverse people stand on the front steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol building.

Politics Take a Back Seat to Hunger at Anti-Hunger Day at the Capitol

“Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This quote hangs in my office as a daily reminder to myself and others. A reminder that true advocacy is not just about fighting for what matters to you – it is about inspiring others to join the conversation. Justice Ginsburg’s words are especially important in reflection of Anti-Hunger Day at the Capitol.

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Portrait of Alfred Gary smiling at the camera in an outdoor setting

Collaborative Progress: Navigating the Nonlinear Path to End Hunger in Oklahoma

Just eight months ago, I received an email which said the following: “Hunger and poverty exist EVERYWHERE.” The reminder came a few weeks after accepting an invitation to join the Congressional Hunger Center’s 30th class of Emerson Fellows. For those not familiar with the program, the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship trains and inspires new leaders in the movement to end hunger and poverty in the United States. Fellows gain vital first-hand experience through placements with community-based organizations across the country coupled with policy-focused organizations in Washington, D.C.

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A group of people listen to two presenters in a large conference room

Getting Oklahoma Libraries Involved in Anti-Hunger Solutions

At the beginning of March, Hunger Free Oklahoma (HFO) team members joined the Oklahoma Library Association (OLA) annual conference in Tulsa. During this two-day event, HFO staff engaged with public, school-based, and university library staff about opportunities to address hunger in their communities. HFO had the opportunity to share ways to get connected in anti-hunger work through several presentations, including topics on summer meals tips, SNAP outreach, and resources for libraries to get involved in feeding programs. 

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Elementary students eat their in classroom breakfast_hunger free oklahoma

National School Breakfast Week is here again!

There’s no easy way to say this… school breakfast participation across Oklahoma is down. Average Daily Participation (ADP*) in school breakfast dropped by 9.8% from School Year (SY) 2021-2022 to SY 2022-2023.

The decline in school meals participation could stem from multiple factors. The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) notes, “Rising food costs, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions, coupled with the return of charging for meals, have contributed to reports of declining participation in many school districts. Families have been confused about the change from pandemic operations; stigma surrounding school meal participation and school meal debt has returned; and schools are burdened with increased administrative work.”

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Portrait of John Hoang in front of a green park-like background

“Peace is a form of generational wealth.” – Dr. Monifa, M.D.

In the movie Barbie, as Ruth Handler walks with Barbie, she says, “We mothers stand still, so our daughters can look back to see how far they’ve come.” As I reminisce about my six-month tenure in Oklahoma as a Bill Emerson Hunger Fellow, I think about the generations of my Vietnamese ancestors that longed for a future of joy, stability, and imagination beyond the atrocities of colonization, war, and poverty.

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Workers assembling meals

Summer Meals Regional Convenings to Kick Off February 22

HFO will hold three Summer Meals Regional Convenings in partnership with the Childhood Food Security Coalition (CFSC), Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma (FBEO), and Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (RFBO). These convenings will replace the previous annual Summer Meals Kick-off format. 

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Long-term Impacts Take Long-term Work

I recently spoke on the value of systems change and advocacy to a group of nonprofit leaders convened by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. I was recognized with an innovation award, which was an acknowledgement of HFO’s staff and partner’s ability to creatively implement original approaches to fighting hunger in our state. I noted that the most important step for innovation is scaling. If it is not scalable, then an innovation is not a solution.

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Make Every Tuesday Giving Tuesday with Monthly Donations to Hunger Free Oklahoma

As we approach the holidays, we encounter many heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of need and generosity. We are all appropriately moved by accounts of struggling families who are gifted boxes loaded with turkeys and all the trimmings. We know that everyone deserves to gather at the table with loved ones, and we express this value by charitable giving, almost a third of which happens in December. Our giving reflects our belief that everyone should have a full belly and a full heart this time of year.

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Happy family sharing food

Oklahoma Schools Can Prevent Household Hunger

While hunger and soaring prices continue to affect Oklahomans, SNAP offers a multi-generational intervention with a track record for improving food security.

Because schools have the data and relationships to connect families to food resources, they are uniquely positioned to reach and improve food security for many of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable families.

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Filling the Summer Food Gap: Maximizing Summer Meals for All

Summer is a time for sunshine, friends, and fun, but when food is limited, it can be a huge stress for families. During the school year, breakfast and lunch are available to students, but they lose critical access to meals when schools are out. Summer meal programs can help families fill the food gap and engage the community.

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A group of diverse schoolchildren eat lunch together.

Fueling Success: Navigating Back-to-School Season with Food Resources

As the last days of summer fade away and the whispers of autumn begin to emerge, it is that time of year again — back-to-school season. Beyond the flurry of buying new backpacks and fresh notebooks, the transition from vacation mode to school mode brings with it a renewed focus on routines and responsibilities.

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People shopping at a farmers market with a large sign that says We Welcome SNAP Benefits.

SNAP Work Requirements and Exemptions Explained

This year, the most important legislation for addressing food insecurity is being considered by Congress – the Farm Bill. But what is the Farm Bill, really? A bill about farms? Yes, but at a much deeper level than most people might realize.  

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From Farms to Plates: Unveiling the Farm Bill’s Secrets to Tackling Food Insecurity

This year, the most important legislation for addressing food insecurity is being considered by Congress – the Farm Bill. But what is the Farm Bill, really? A bill about farms? Yes, but at a much deeper level than most people might realize.  

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Group of youth standing together in front of a colorful wall.

Youth Are Leaders Now

Nearly two decades ago, when I began working with youth, my responsibilities were to build an afterschool space for kids to have fun, play, eat a snack, and send them on their way home. Each year, I learned a little more about the youth enrolled in my program and how to not only help them, but their whole families.

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Kindergarten children eating packed lunch together

School Meal Forms Are Back: How to Supercharge Your Collection Process

Balanced and secure nutrition contributes to students’ success in and out of the classroom, playing a critical role in their overall health and academic achievement. “Most US children attend school for six hours a day and consume as much as half their daily calories at school.”

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Policy Change is Needed to Ensure Food Security for Active Duty Military

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program that helps low-income families. Service members that receive the Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) especially struggle to qualify for SNAP, as BAH counts as income when determining SNAP eligibility. Currently, active-duty military access to SNAP is insufficient, and it is imperative that Congress works towards excluding BAH as income for SNAP eligibility.

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People shopping at a farmers market with a large sign that says We Welcome SNAP Benefits.

Your Local Farmers Market May Help with Rising Food Costs

As every parent feeding a child knows, food prices are rising at historic rates.  
In 2022, the price of grocery store or supermarket food purchases increased by 11.4 percent, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Food prices are expected to grow more slowly in 2023, but still at above-historical rates. In 2023, grocery prices are predicted to increase 7.8 percent.  

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HFO Staff Connect with Libraries

by Alissa Snider, Hunger Outreach Program Specialist Earlier this month, HFO team members joined the Oklahoma Library Association (OLA) annual conference in Norman. During this two-day event, HFO staff engaged with public, school-based, and university library staff about opportunities to address hunger in their communities. HFO had the opportunity to share ways to get connected […]

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A Carnival of Caring: 2023’s Summer Meals Kickoff

by Eric Barr, Hunger Outreach Program Specialist “Tons of information and opportunities to learn and connect!” – Summer Meals Kickoff Attendee The Oklahoma Childhood Food Security Coalition’s 2023 Summer Meals Kickoff, presented by Oklahoma Complete Health and Williams, was one for the ages! Thank you to all the participants, presenters, and sponsors.   Due to the […]

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The Most Important Meal: 2022 School Breakfast Report Released

by Katie Raymond, Regional Program Manager As a Hunger Free Oklahoma newsletter subscriber, you’re getting an advance look at the 2022 Oklahoma School Breakfast Report!  The report features three Oklahoma school districts that operate Breakfast After the Bell models, sharing their stories and advice for optimizing the program for different schools’ needs and preferences. The […]

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White House conference

The Work Continues into 2023

We at Hunger Free Oklahoma are reflecting on 2022 with gratitude for you and so many others who continued to press on with us in the movement to end hunger across our state and our nation.

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Traveling Together Toward Food Justice

Over the past few months as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow, I have found that when I tell people that I work at Hunger Free Oklahoma (HFO), they often ask the same question. “So, do you give people food?” Answering “no” tends to make explaining my job more complicated, but it also provides an opportunity for a conversation about a more holistic view of what anti-hunger work can—and does—look like.  

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Working together for a hunger free Oklahoma.

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