TULSA, Oklahoma -- Life can take unexpected turns. An illness, a job loss can throw a family into crisis. A green country mother who's been through both, and is finding her way back with a little help from the eastern Oklahoma Food Bank's Backpacks for Kids program.
From the time she walks in the door, its mom can I have: can I have a sandwich? Can I have a bowl of cereal? Mom what's for dinner?
As the mother of four healthy girls, Roselind Barnes knows all about growing appetites. Now with just 10-year-old Sierra at home, Roz thought her life would be easier. That was until last spring when an abscessed tooth led to complications that almost took her life.
"I spent the night with my mother and I woke up the next morning and I could feel my throat closing, and I said ‘mom I've got to go to the hospital.' she took me to the minor emergency room and that's the last thing I remember. I woke up three weeks later from a coma," Roz said.
Roz had suffered a stroke. And four months later, she's still trying to recover physically and financially. For Sierra, the crisis meant all too often going without. Then came the backpack program.
Now Sierra is one of 69 children at Kendall Whittier Elementary School who receive a special backpack every Friday. It's filled with ten healthy snacks that in Sierra's case do much more than just fill an empty stomach.
A 2010 study found that more than 60 percent of food bank clients in eastern Oklahoma have unpaid medical bills. And 45 percent of Oklahoma children who grow up in single family homes live in poverty.