2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review

The second year of operation for Hunger Free Oklahoma (HFO), 2018, is a great example of how government and community stakeholders can work together to address one of the state’s most pressing issues. We worked across the state with partners in government, education, health, the faith community, and the private sector to move the needle on hunger in Oklahoma. We provided technical assistance on more than 290 occasions, trained over 100 individuals in SNAP Outreach, and established 48 new locations to conduct SNAP enrollment assistance; those numbers will continue to grow.

We accomplished so many things in 2018 by building partnerships and leveraging resources. Here is a look back at some of our standout moments in the effort to end hunger in Oklahoma last year:

Oklahoma Working to Close Gap Between SNAP and Those in Need: In partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma State Department of Education, HFO launched SNAP in Schools. HFO staff worked with four school districts (Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Tahlequah, and Porter) to train front line staff on how to engage and help families apply for SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. HFO presented on this innovative program at several national forums and the program was featured in the 2018 OKDHS Annual Report. In 2019, the partners hope to expand the impact and reach of this program.

Oklahoma Sees Nation’s Largest Increase in After School Meal Participation But Has Room to Improve: With a collective focus from the State Department of Education, youth programming organizations, school districts, the Food Banks, and others, the number of afterschool meals accessed by children in need increased 121%. This is a shining example of what collaboration and effective public private partnerships can accomplish in our great state.

SNAP on College Campuses: HFO worked with Tulsa Community College to train staff to help students identify if they are eligible for SNAP and assist with the online application for benefits. In the coming year we will seek new partners to expand.

Summer Sponsor Leadership Academy: HFO launched the first ever Oklahoma Summer Sponsor Leadership Academy. Six organizations signed up to be in the first cohort. They are provided with monthly trainings regarding paperwork and compliance, menu planning, strategies for working with food vendors, best practices in outreach, the opportunity to meet with mentor organizations who have previous experience in summer meals, and more. Our goal is to continue this program annually to build the number of summer meal sponsors and expand their capacity to propel Oklahoma out of last place in the nation for summer meals participation.

Advocacy to Protect the Federal Nutrition Programs: HFO has worked with partners in DC and locally throughout the year to advocate to protect the Federal Nutrition Programs and implement policies that remove barriers to access. The collective successes include: keeping the programs as a priority in the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s One Voice Federal Legislative Agenda; passage of the 2018 Farm Bill with no significant changes to SNAP; and forming the Coalition for the Future of Oklahoma Families to oppose an administrative rule change that would threaten more than 200,000 Oklahomans’ access to the nutrition, healthcare, and housing they need to succeed.

Online Summer Meals Map: HFO partnered with Code for Tulsa and the Oklahoma State Department of Education to launch an online summer meals map for the entire state in English and Spanish at meals4kidsok.org. This map helps families identify sites and times that their children can access no cost summer meals. In the first summer of operation, the website received more than 4,900 unique visitors.

Metro Schools Participate in ‘Breakfast in the Classroom’ Program: Schools across the state celebrated National School Breakfast Week and promoted best practices like Breakfast in the Classroom while promoting that more could be done to reestablish Oklahoma’s leadership in this area.

Together in the last year we have moved the needle on hunger in Oklahoma. Hunger Free Oklahoma’s work is dependent upon the strength and breadth of our partnerships. We are grateful to each of our partners and supporters for making these steps toward ending hunger in Oklahoma happen, but we cannot rest. We look forward to strengthening current partnerships, creating new partnerships, and continuing to bring everyone to the table to leverage resources and expertise. We will continue to strive every day to work toward changing systems, policies, and practices to remove barriers and maximize access to crucial resources for the most vulnerable and food insecure Oklahomans.

In partnership,

Chris Bernard

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