2 minute read

Agencies that provide food for those in need are experiencing record levels of demand for people who are experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One such organization at the center of food relief in any year is the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Cathy Nestlen, the organization’s Director of Strategic Communications taled to us about this extraordinary year of need.

“In the first 19 days following the governor’s state of emergency declaration on March 15, we distributed 3.5 million pounds,” said Nestlen. “That’s an additional 100,000 pounds more than typical and represents five semi-trailers full of food. We expect that amount to continue to increase.”

To volunteer to help the Regional Food Bank, fill out a form HERE.

Regional Food Bank donation site
Moore Food & Resource Center and Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma employees work to distribute food April 2, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure the safety of shoppers and staff, the agency has converted from client-choice to a drive-thru model. (Photo courtesy of Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma)

Food insecurity

Food insecurity is the USDA measure of lack of access to enough healthful food. Families experiencing food insecurity often have to make trade-offs between bills and groceries.

In a 2017 report, 132,000 people living in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District were found to be suffering from food insecurity.

“Oklahoma is the country’s fifth hungriest state,” Nestlen told us. “Economic insecurity is directly linked with food insecurity so when a household loses income, it can easily fall into economic insecurity resulting in need for food assistance.”

“People have to make hard choices between paying rent/mortgage, utilities, prescriptions, and food easily falls to the bottom of the list,” said Nestlen.

How to get help

Food banks are making changes to service to keep both workers and people who are receiving food as safe as possible.

Due to the Coronavirus situation, many food banks have shifted to a drive-thru model where emergency boxes are brought to the recipient’s car.

Some food banks only allow people to receive a food box every 30 days and residents will need to bring proof of address with them such as a utility bill and a photo ID.

It is important to call ahead to find out if the food bank near you has changed hours or is still open.

People trying to find information about where their nearest food bank is can call 2-1-1 for information or visit The Regional Food Bank online HERE.

SNAP assistance

Households who have lost income due to CONVID-19 pandemic should apply for SNAP assistance.

Formerly known as food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly assistance for food purchases.

The Regional Food Bank’s SNAP outreach specialist can help with the application process. Call 405-600-3168 or complete their website contact form.


Sustain our journalism by becoming a supporter

Oklahoma City Free Press is dedicated to providing high quality journalism that positively impacts our community. Click this linkto support our mission.