Regional Food Bank says Food for Kids donation-matching program is critical during pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – “Any gains that we have made in the fight against hunger… the pandemic has really had a strong hard impact,” said Cathy Nestlen, Director of Communications and Marketing for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

COVID-19 has forced more Oklahomans to go hungry.

“With the unemployment benefits- the additional ones that ended at the end of July- we’re starting to see an uptick in need due to that,” said Nestlen.

Parents are left trying to figure out how to feed their kids.

We spoke with some at the start of the pandemic, who told us they rely on school meals.

“Times are hard, can’t work, because of all the child care… just trying to make it day by day!” said one OKCPS parent.

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is working through the rest of September to feed students who rely on school for breakfast, lunch, and even weekend meals.

It’s their annual Food For Kids Match, but this year it’s especially vital.

“Currently, we’re 1 in 4 Oklahoma children who are food insecure and feeding America is projecting that could go to 1 in nearly 3,” said Nestlen.

David Gorham, the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma, Dolese Bros. Co., David and Lezlie Hudiburg, and Mark and Beth Brewer, will match monetary donations dollar for dollar this month up to $160,000.

“For every one dollar donated helps provide four meals. So during the match for every one dollar donated helps provide 8 meals for children,” said Nestlen.

This summer alone, they served 25% more meals than summer of 2019.

Along with higher volumes, districts are having to come up with creative ways to hand out the food.

“Some are using bus routes which makes perfect sense cause students are used to going to those bus stops,” said Nestlen.

Others have pick-up options for parents.

Whatever the case, food bank staff says they believe the impact from this pandemic will stick around.

“My kids really wouldn’t be eating that much right now unless this was here” said a local parent.

You can help The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma reach their matching donation here.

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