ENID, Okla. —
Loaves & Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma may receive a $20,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation if it receives enough votes.
The money will be awarded by Walmart as part of its “Fighting Hunger Together” initiative — a national campaign in which money is awarded to the programs that gets the most votes for its programs that help alleviate child hunger.
“This is an easy way for everyone to get involved in fighting hunger,” said Jennifer Kisling, volunteer coordinator. “Anyone on Facebook can participate by voting for Loaves & Fishes daily during the month of April.”
Votes will be counted until 11:59 p.m. CST April 30.
The public will decide what organization will receive the grants through a voting campaign on Facebook that includes more than 300 hunger-relief organizations from across the country. The more votes Loaves & Fishes gets, the better chance it has of winning the grant money. The funds won will be used to purchase food and develop a community garden.
“We are competing against organizations in much larger cities, but our need is just as great,” said Executive Director Carrie Wilson. “Since Jan. 1, we have helped over 3,800 individuals receive assistance. From our shelves to their families’ table, every donation we receive is used to fight hunger in our community.”
In March, Loaves and Fishes served more than 1,400 people from northwest Oklahoma. Wilson said their clients are their neighbors.
“Our clients are our neighbors, the people we work beside and go to church with,” said Wilson. “A majority of our population is one hospital visit or major life event away from food insecurity. Oklahoma ranks as the fourth hungriest state in the nation, and northwest Oklahoma is not immune to hunger.”
The need at Loaves & Fishes continues to grow. An average of 348 new people obtain groceries from the client-choice food resource center each month.
According to the USDA, more than 16 million children in the United States struggle with food insecurity. In Garfield County, an estimated 15 percent of children struggle with hunger.
“Our pantry has only one paid staff person, which is why community support is so important,” Kisling said. “There are three things we must have to keep our doors open: volunteers, food and money. Walmart has provided us a very fun and easy way to earn some extra money, but we can’t do it alone. We need everyone voting.”
Loaves and Fishes, 701 E. Maine, is a partner of Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. The new pantry is open 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every third Saturday.