Oklahoma is one of only five states with a food insecurity rate above 14.5%. Feeding American projects will climb to 22.5% in the coming years, while the U.S.D.A. projects eastern Oklahoma will soon have the nation’s highest rate of food insecurity for children. Currently, one in six of our statewide population is considered food insecure which means 594,000 Oklahomans are unsure of where they will get their next meal.
With those startling facts at the forefront of the minds of Forest Grove School’s administration and staff, one staff member has set a goal to make food insecurity less of a concern for her school students and their families. School counselor, Tammie Gilbert, heard of the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma at a state conference. The Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is a warehouse and distribution center for millions of pounds of food that is distributed throughout eastern Oklahoma. Being a member of Feeding America and partnering with community, retailers, and farmers allow them to provide food to local partner agencies (pantries) for little or no cost. The Food Bank has two specific programs that Forest Grove School will participate in.
The first program is the School Pantry Program. The School Pantry Program will allow Forest Grove’s middle school students to be able to shop on Thursdays and take shelf stable items home for the weekend. This program provides food items that can be cooked at home, such as canned corn, pasta sauce, boxed spaghetti, instant-oatmeal, canned tuna, etc., for chronically hungry students to share with the whole family. Forest Grove will also offer hygiene products, such as menstrual pads, tooth paste, conditioner, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc. The program will allow students to confidentially and safely shop for items for their family.
The second program Forest Grove School will participate in is the Backpack Program. Elementary students will be served through a Backpack Program. Elementary students will be able to take home a prepacked backpack that will provide food for them for the weekend. Forest Grove School is anticipating to have this program for PK-5 up and running in January of 2023.
Forest Grove School is humbled and excited to be able to offer this program to their students. Forest Grove School recognizes that students who are hungry can’t optimally learn while at school and are working hard to fill the gaps that help to ensure students are able to learn while at school. Forest Grove counselor will be sharing this program with the other schools in the county.