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Talking Turkey: Food Shortages Plague Tulsa Charities

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John 3:16 Mission needs more turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners. John 3:16 Mission needs more turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners.
Area food banks are struggling to meet the needs of the needy this holiday season. Area food banks are struggling to meet the needs of the needy this holiday season.

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

Local food banks say they need help meeting the needs of people who are struggling this holiday season.
This year, donations are down and food baskets may be on the lean side this holiday season if donations do not increase.

The John 3:16 Mission says the number of at risk families is up 51% since this time last year. They worry they won't be able to feed the 5,000 families in need this holiday season.

Traditionally, John 3:16 provides a full Thanksgiving meal to those in need, but this year is a struggle.

“Our concern is we're going to turn people away, and to be truthful it's a bit like being kicked in the stomach,” said Rev. Steve Whitaker, John 3:16 Mission executive director. 

A key ingredient is missing from the Thanksgiving baskets: the turkeys – nearly 1,800 of them.

“Right now we've got 3,200 turkeys, and I can't find any more turkeys in the city,” Whitaker said.

 “The need is greater than ever because more people are unemployed, underemployed and we have a very high poverty rate here in Oklahoma,” said Carol Foley of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

The Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma says more food is going out than they are taking in.

Turkey and all the trimmings are perfect for the season, but the food bank says families at risk for hunger need food on the table every day – not just the holidays.

Foley says the USDA statistics are out, and Oklahoma ranks fourth for hunger.

“We're actually up from last year and not in a good way,” she said.

“I'm a man of faith but I have to tell you there's a level of concern, deep concern that we are not going to be able to meet the needs of everybody,” said Rev. Steve Whitaker of John 3:16 Mission, “that we're just going to have to turn people away and say ‘I'm sorry we can't help you.’”

Rev. W.R. Casey Jr. of the Christian Minister's Alliance can also give more information about how to help area families in need. He can be contacted at 918-951-7407.

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