Loaves & Fishes urging community action, seeking volunteers for food drive

Volunteers from OG&E sort food donations at Loaves & Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma in this October 2018 file photo. (Bonnie Vculek / Enid News & Eagle)

ENID, Okla. — Loaves & Fishes of Northwest Okla­homa is urging the community to take action to end hunger this month, recognized nationally as Hunger Action Month, and seeking volunteers for its annual fall food drive, set for Sept. 29.

Hunger Action Month is an initiative of Feeding America, a Chicago-based nonprofit that works with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries nationwide, providing food to an estimated one in seven Americans — the largest hunger-relief organization in the country, according to the group's website.

September is selected for special emphasis to fight hunger each year, and to "spread the word and take action on the hunger crisis, and dedicate ourselves to a solution," according to the website.

Loaves & Fishes is giving the community an opportunity participate in Hunger Action Month with a full calendar of ideas to help fight hunger in the community.

The September calendar of Hunger Action Month activities is available online at http://www.loavesandfishesnwok.org/hunger-action-month.html. Ideas on the calendar include volunteering at Loaves & Fishes, wearing orange to promote hunger awareness, and small tips like donating peanut butter to Loaves & Fishes on Sept. 13 — National Peanut Day.

Katie Long, assistant director at Loaves & Fishes, said Hunger Action Month aims to raise awareness in the community of the prevalence of food insecurity, and to increase support for the food resource center.

According to Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, one in six adults and one in four children in Oklahoma have inconsistent access to healthy food, giving Oklahoma the sixth-highest rate of food insecurity in the nation.

In Enid, Loaves & Fishes has been fighting hunger for seven years, and since opening its doors in October 2012 has distributed more than 4.5 million pounds of food to those in need, serving an average of 675 families each month.

One of the ways the community can support that effort, Long said, is to volunteer or donate during the fall food drive, set for Sept. 29.

During the food drive, volunteers scour the community on 66 collection routes, picking up bags of donated food from residences.

Last year, Loaves & Fishes brought in 43,500 pounds of food in its two community-wide food drives.

Long said volunteers still are needed to collect food on 22 of the 66 routes in the Sept. 29 food drive. She said three people are usually needed to complete a route, and need their own transportation.

Churches, civic groups, families and businesses are invited to adopt collection routes. Collections will be 1-4 p.m. Sept. 29.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the food drive can call Long at (580) 540-9830.

Volunteers also are needed on a more long-term basis to work in the warehouse and food pantry. Volunteers must be 16 years old or older to volunteer unaccompanied, while children 13-15 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information on volunteering at Loaves & Fishes contact Melanie Mayhall at (580) 540-9830 or melanie@loavesandfishesnwok.org. Information and volunteer applications also are available online at http://www.loavesandfishesnwok.org/volunteer.html.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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