Matt has been in and out of sobriety and homelessness for much of his adult life. However, his life looks much different now. One of the contributing factors to his new success is the Coffee Bunker, a new Partner Program of the Food Bank which extends its reach to include veterans in need.
“The Coffee Bunker really helped me. It is a strictly sober place and is a good influence,” Matt said.
The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma discovered veterans are an under-reported group in hunger awareness surveys. Hunger affects veterans disproportionally than the general population. Statistics indicate veterans live in 18 percent of households the Food Bank serves and 110,000 military veterans living in the Food Bank’s service area alone. There are likely many more veterans facing food insecurity in Oklahoma.
The Food Bank currently provides hot lunches to Tulsa’s veterans at the Coffee Bunker. The Coffee Bunker is a veterans’ peer center the offers opportunities that support service members and veterans toward successful reintegration with their families and communities.
“I could eat ramen noodles all the time, but I love the lunches from the Food Bank’s Mobile Eatery. I love coming here when it’s lunch day,” Matt explained.
Food is supplied to Supportive Services for Veteran Families, a housing first initiative, for food starter kits. Finally, The Food Bank also makes mobile pantry deliveries to Disable American Veterans centers in Claremore, Muskogee and Poteau, as well as to the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center and the United Spanish War Veteran Colony near Wilburton in Latimer County.
“I really have a positive outlook. I’m getting out of the relationships that have held me back, and now, with the Coffee Bunker, I have a positive place to go. It feels good. It’s going to be okay,” Matt said.
Donations to support the Food Bank’s veterans feeding initiative can be made to the Veteran's Nutrition Fund.