3 Ways You Can Help Increase Food Security for Oklahoma Children and Teens

3 Ways You Can Help Increase Food Security for Oklahoma Children and Teens

by Treasure Standeford, Hunger Outreach Specialist

 

June 15, 2021

During the past decade, I have worked to support childhood food security in Oklahoma in different jobs and capacities. I am often asked, “What is food security?” Simply put, it is having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. I also share that economic hardship prevents many Oklahoma families from having enough to eat at various points through the year. The good news is that there are a number of programs that connect children and families to meals. People then often ask, “How can I help?”

The answer is not as complicated as you might think! There are many opportunities to plug into this work across the state, and every effort helps.

 

Here are three key ways you can help increase food security for children and teens in Oklahoma:

1. Learn more about programs that increase kids’ access to nutritious meals:

Federal child nutrition programs provide meals for children and teens both during and out-of-school time. Schools and community organizations are often a consistent and reliable source for meals and snacks for children and teens in communities across Oklahoma. Examples of some of these important food security programs operating right here in Oklahoma include:

  • School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP): Schools are on the front line addressing childhood food insecurity which helps to ensure students have the food they need to focus on learning during the school day.
  • Afterschool meal programs: Afterschool meal programs, whether at a school or community organization, provide reimbursable snacks and suppers to eligible participants 18 years old and younger during out-of-school hours.
  • Summer Meals Program: When the school year ends, the Summer Meals Program allows all children and teens 18 years old and younger to access no-cost meals at participating sites like schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, libraries, community centers, and parks. For summer 2021, more than 1,300 meal sites across Oklahoma will be serving summer meals.

Grocery assistance programs help families stretch their monthly grocery budget. Eligible households receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to use at locations across the state. Examples of grocery assistance programs include:

2. Help spread the word about these childhood hunger-fighting programs:

There are many resources and programs available to support our fellow Oklahomans. Knowledge is power! We need your help to connect people in your community to these programs. Using social media is a quick and easy way to get information out to your network. Ask your partners, schools, and community organizations to share as well. A couple of resources you can share today include:

Share the Meal Mapper: www.Meals4KidsOK.org
As the school year has wrapped up, summer meal sites have opened across the state to help to fill the nutrition gap for kids. You can let others know about meal sites in your community by sharing the meal mapper on social media. The site helps families find their nearest Summer Meals location. This short video demonstrates how to use the map. You can also access templates, graphics, and free printable material here.

Share the SNAP Application Hotline with families: 1-877-760-0114
Hunger Free Oklahoma operates the SNAP Application Hotline to make it easier for individuals and families to apply for SNAP benefits over the phone. The toll-free number to call is 1-877-760-0114. The Hotline is open Monday – Saturday and language assistance is available in English, Spanish, Burmese, and Zomi.

3. Support your local programs

Throughout the state of Oklahoma, schools, state agencies, and community organizations are working to ensure children and teens have enough to eat throughout the year. We can leverage the power of partnerships to support this existing work.

  • Engage with your community to identify local efforts to alleviate food insecurity and how you and/or your organization can get involved.
  • Is there a summer meals site in your community? Reach out and ask if they need support with programming, volunteers, or outreach efforts.
  • Do you know a person, team, or organization going above and beyond to support child food security in their community? Nominate them and we can feature their work on social media!

 

Interested in learning more? Contact Treasure.Standeford@hungerfreeok.org for more information!

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