It was a recording setting year for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma as 46.2 million pounds of food was distributed throughout the state during the past year.
During Fiscal Year 2011, the food bank helped feed hungry families through 825 partner agencies and school agencies. A total of 53 counties are served by the food bank, including Canadian County, where 971,897 pounds of food was distributed.
“We distributed 27 percent more food this year than the previous year,” Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank, said. “In June alone, we distributed more than 3.6 million pounds. Yet, many are still struggling with hunger.”
According to a released from the food bank, Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the nation and nearly 600,000 residents are food insecure. Each week the food bank is able to help feed more than 90,000 people with the majority of those served being children, senior citizens and working families.
However, as the amount of hungry families grows across the state, so are the financial challenges faced by the food bank. Costs for food and distribution continue to increase and food bank officials say it’s difficult to keep up with demand.
“Unfortunately, the cost for food, boxes, packaging materials and just about everything we use to distribute food to people in need has gone up,” Bivens said. “Last year, we had more food leaving our shelves than we had coming in – and that’s a scary trend. We distributed 2.4 million pounds more in Fiscal Year 2011 than we received. If this trend continues, we will only have a ten to 15 day supply of food, as opposed to our 45 to 65 day supply.”
Because of the need the food bank is reaching out to local residents for donations and financial support. Bivens said the food bank’s administrative costs are less than 4 percent of the total budget, meaning 96 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to food costs and distribution.
Volunteers are also needed. Last year more than 85,000 hours of service was donated, resulting in a savings of over $1 million in labor costs.
For more information, call (405) 972-1111 or visit www.regionalfoodbank.org.