OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The pandemic has been going on for almost two years now, and its effects have been felt directly here in Oklahoma. Many residents, struggling to get by with their bills and even to feed their families. But thankfully, community partners have stepped up to fill that need.
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, along with the Regional Food Bank and the Pet Food Pantry, have been feeding hundreds of Oklahomans and their pets every week since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite that extended period of giving, the need has not lessened.
“We have cars that start lining up about two hours before our stop even starts, because they know that we’ll be here,” said Candice Hillenbrand, Director of Mission Engagement at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
The line winds through the Oklahoma City neighborhood, waiting for the community partners to hand out the much needed food.
“We probably would serve about 200 cars and about 1,200 people,” said Hillenbrand. “So people of all ages, seniors, children and adults.”
But not everyone shows up in cars. Royce Archer lives nearby, just close enough to walk.
One day he noticed the line and was relieved to find out what it was for. It was a godsend for his family, as the pandemic had made it difficult for them to make ends meet.
“I don’t know how we’d make it,” said Archer. “It does help.”
Archer is one of many people who also picks up pet food. That extra resource is given out by the Pet Food Pantry.
“There’s a lot of people who, because they don’t want to be lonely, they’ll feed their pet before themselves,” said Candace Beaty, Executive Director at Pet Food Pantry of OKC. “So it’s important to us to make sure that all food insecurities are taken care of.”
The mission is made possible by volunteers, many of whom are members of St. Luke’s. For one woman, who also works at the Regional Food Bank, this work reminds her about the importance of the agency’s work.
“Sometimes you have to get away from your desk and really see these massive, long lines and see the gratitude that these folks have, and it reassures me every day of why I come to work every day,” said Deven Vernon, St. Luke’s volunteer and Regional Food Bank employee.
To learn more about Hunger Action Month or how to donate, visit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s website.