By Chris Bernard, Executive Director
January 19, 2021
A new year does not magically end the challenges of the last, but it does give us an opportunity to look forward and set new priorities for the year ahead. We are grateful to be able to look ahead, regardless of the current challenges or new challenges that may arise, and think about what more we can do to move toward a Hunger Free Oklahoma.
Even as there is a spotlight on derision and conflict within our nation, there are countless stories of unity, collaboration, and rising to the most daunting challenges. At Hunger Free Oklahoma, we are proud to play a role in the tremendous collective response between public and private partners across the state to meet the unprecedented need of the time.
In 2021, we will see new heights for collaboration amongst the government, tribal, and nonprofit partners we are so lucky to work with, we will see continued growth in our staff, and we will see the systemic growth of programs that make the federal nutrition programs more accessible to those in need. In 2021, Hunger Free Oklahoma plans to:
- Launch a public-private partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to implement a statewide SNAP outreach plan. The plan leverages private and state dollars to bring in a federal dollar match to support the most comprehensive approach to SNAP outreach and enrollment assistance in the history of the state.
- Expand Double Up Oklahoma (DUO) to operate in at least 11 grocery stores in targeted, high-need rural communities through funding from TSET, the USDA, and many private funders. DUO, traditionally operating only in farmers markets, provides up to $20 per SNAP purchase to go toward fresh fruits and vegetables. This will help struggling families stretch their budgets, incentivize healthy eating habits, and support local economies and farmers.
- Continue to spread the voice of hunger advocates at every level of government. The pandemic highlighted a glaring need for advocacy at every level to pass relief, implement the programs approved in relief packages, and remove barriers that stood in the way of getting food resources in the hands of our neighbors. The Oklahoma community rose to the occasion, on child nutrition waivers, SNAP increases, pandemic EBT, and more, but the need for these voices is not over. 2021 will see an even stronger anti-hunger community through targeted advocacy, education, and deeper collaboration with our partners.
Most Importantly, we will continue to build new partnerships, strengthen existing partnerships, and learn from those doing the work so we can better support them and other organizations in the fight to end hunger.
We are humbled to be a part of the amazing community of leaders who work on this issue every day.
We are excited to move forward in 2021 with all of you.