Covid-19 has put an unbearable strain on our state and local food pantries, and more Oklahomans are hungrier than ever. By rising to the Oklahoma and fraternal standard of charity, and through our charitable gifts, we can help our friends and neighbors in need.
Oklahoma ranks 10th in the nation in food insecurity. What is food insecurity? As defined by the US Department of Agriculture, it is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Twenty-three percent of Oklahoma children don’t get the food they need (that number is estimated to be 218,770 kids). Food insecurity weakens our labor workforce, decreases educational attainment, and lowers high school graduation rates. The majority of people served by food banks are chronically hungry children, retirees, and hardworking families struggling to make ends meet.
In the 2019 fiscal year, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma distributed more than 43.8 million meals through a network of 1,300 community-based partner agencies, charitable feeding programs, and schools. The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma distributed more than 24 million meals throughout the twenty-four counties of eastern Oklahoma in 2019, with over 40% of that being fresh produce. The Masonic Charity Foundation and the Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma, along with Griffin Communications, are partnering with the Regional Food Bank and Community Food Banks in supporting the Food for Kids program. The Food for Kids Program includes programs such as the Elementary Backpack Program, Kids Café, School Pantry Program, and the Summer Feeding Program. Last year, over 24,000 Oklahoma children benefitted from this program.
One in five Oklahoma children is food insecure. The adverse effects of going without food are evident – cognitive and physical development can be impaired, behavior changes, the ability to concentrate and perform complex tasks becomes more difficult, and psychological effects such as depression, aggression, anxiety, and poor social skills can appear in children.
Since 2011, we as a fraternity have participated in this statewide campaign. Each year we, as a Fraternity, have helped feed more and more Oklahoma children, but food insecurity still exists – and as such, the need for our contributions continue.
Even though this campaign is a community effort, we, as Oklahoma Masons, have to make sure we each individually contribute to the campaign. Lodge contributions to the campaign are automatically matched and forwarded to the appropriate food bank to support services for YOUR region of Oklahoma! No Matching Funds application is required, write “Food Bank” in the memo line of your check and mail it to the Masonic Charity Foundation’s office. If you do not want your funds matched, please contact the office at (405) 348-7500 to let us know.
This special initiative will run from August 1st through September 28th, 2020. You can learn more about the Food for Kids programs and local food banks partners in YOUR area by visiting the Food Banks’ websites:
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma
Supporting Food For Kids programming doesn’t just help our kids during the school year. These programs specifically address childhood hunger and ensure food-insecure children in our communities have a reliable resource for nutritious meals throughout the year.
Together we can feed our children and support the future of Oklahoma.