The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

October 22, 2012

Loaves and Fishes opens doors today

ENID, Okla. — Another food pantry is opening in Enid to help serve those who need help.

Loaves and Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma, 701 E. Maine, will open today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. and tours from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Loaves and Fishes 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.

Clients at the store will be encouraged to take only what they need, rather than being given food they may or may not be able to use. Angie Gaines, director of public relations for Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, said the client-choice system restores dignity and respect to the hungry and has been shown to reduce food waste.

“We’ve actually had a quiet opening, but we’ve been very busy,” said Gail Wynne, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Foundation board member. “We’ve found it costs about $500 a year to feed a family of four. That’s pretty efficient.”

There were 59 families that applied for food the first day the pantry was open. Loaves and Fishes is not intended to provide all the food for a family, but instead is a supplemental food source in the event the family cannot get through the month, Wynne said.

“Every day we open our doors, we see more and more people,” she said.

Wynne said Loaves and Fishes is the first rural food bank in the state, and there is no experience to determine how much food will be needed. Food pantries at Garland Road Christian Church and Shepherd’s Cupboard at Bethany United Methodist Church also will remain in operation to help people.

The motto of the food pantry is “Each one feed one,” a philosophy that asks each person to figure how much he or she spends on food for their entire family each month and donate the same amount to Loaves and Fishes to provide food for hungry people in Garfield County, Wynne said.

There are a lot of hungry people in Garfield County, she said. The center was developed through a grant from Kresge Foundation, and Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma made an initial investment of $250,000 to purchase and remodel the building at 701 E. Maine.

Wynne has met with officials at other food pantries to establish a food point system that will allow people to obtain food once a month. The pantry has a system identifying the needs of low-income families and giving them points to spend on food from the shelves. Healthy food costs fewer points; the less healthy the food, the more points needed, she said. The system encourages healthier food choices.

Wynne said America is in the second generation of the fast-food era, and many people do not know how to cook. Loaves and Fishes will teach them to cook and provide a garden to teach people how to raise their own food.

There are about 8,870 hungry people in Garfield County, and of those, about 3,500 are children. A minimum-wage earner will make slightly more than $13,000 a year — not enough for a single mother to feed and educate her children, Wynne said.

Wynne encouraged people to come see the facility and said there are many ways to help. They may volunteer, donate food, collect donated food or give financial support, she said.

“Come work a day, and the next trip to the grocery store will have a whole different meaning. You will be very grateful,” Wynne said.

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