The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

September 24, 2012

Food pantry nears its opening day

ENID, Okla. — Each One Feed One: That is the motto of Loaves and Fishes, a new food resource center in northwest Oklahoma.

The philosophy asks that each person figure how much he or she spends on food for their family each month and donate that same amount to Loaves and Fishes to provide food for hungry people in Garfield County.

There are a lot of hungry people in Garfield County, and Gail Wynne wants to find a way to feed them and to teach them to eat healthy.

Loaves and Fishes, 701 E. Maine, is a nonprofit agency responsible for operating a regional food resource center in Enid. It is the first of its kind in Oklahoma and is a project of Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Wynne spoke Monday to Enid Rotary Club to discuss Loaves and Fishes. The center was developed through a grant from the Kresge Foundation, and Regional Food Bank made an initial investment of $250,000 to purchase and remodel the building at 701 E. Maine and to provide space for a client-choice food pantry. Wynne referred to the location as a warehouse and small grocery store.

“It’s a client-choice pantry, like a grocery store,” Wynne said.

Wynne told Rotarians she has met with a group that operates food pantries to determine a point system that would allow people to obtain food once a month. The facility operates by allowing clients more dignity and makes more efficient use of food resources. Clients choose what they want and take only what they need, rather than being given food they might not be able to use.

The pantry system will have a system of food distribution 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. Wynne said the use of a point system encourages healthier food choices.

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

With the help of Cheri Ezzell, of Community Development Support Association, Loaves and Fishes also is working to teach people to eat healthy. Their goal is to provide healthy food and teach people how to use it.

“It seems bizarre we have to teach people to cook, but we’re going back to the 1940s and 1950s,” she said.

Wynne said 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, she said.

“We bring all sorts of possibilities together, and we need volunteers to help with intake, to work in the warehouse, maintenance, the garden, to show people how to raise food,” she said.

Linda Franklin is executive director of the organization and the only employee. Volunteers will perform the rest of the work.

While the food bank is starting up, operating costs are up to them, and Wynne said the agency will be privately funded. She estimates the facility can be operated on about $150,000 a year.

Grand opening for Loaves and Fishes will be Oct. 23. Donations to support Loaves and Fishes can be sent to: Loaves and Fishes, Roxanne Pollard, Treasurer, 102 S. Van Buren, Enid, OK 73703.

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