Terry Hood, News On 6
DEPEW, Oklahoma -- News on 6 has partnered with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma this year to raise awareness about the Backpack for Kids program which helps fight childhood hunger.
That program slows down in the summertime but the food bank doesn't.
Photojournalist Ty Lewis and I followed their truck to the Creek county town of Depew and saw firsthand the need and the teamwork that keeps the program running.
The mobile food pantry makes its first stop ever in the town of Depew.
There was almost four tons of food on the truck. That included perishable goods donated by local businesses.
In Depew, dozens of volunteers from four churches were waiting with open arms to make sure not a scrap went to waste.
"We've never had this kind of a turnout, volunteers like this. So it's amazing that it's working this well," said John Wright, volunteer.
"We're all such a loving community that everybody. You know they might talk about you. But they'll go to the length to help you out," said Neva Webb, volunteer.
And these days, plenty of folks need the help.
Jan Marie Evans runs Depew's food pantry.
"We've had more people out of work. More people with families, especially children, needing food. Even though they may be employed, it's not enough to make it through the month," said Jan Marie Evans.
It is a story folks at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma hear time and time again.
In its 24 county service area, the food bank has distributed almost 17 million pounds of food in the last 12 months. That's up almost 25 percent from the previous year.
And in rural towns like Depew, everyone knows someone who is struggling.
"There's a lot of grandparents raising grandkids in these communities. And they struggle because they don't have the funds to do anything extra," said John Wright.
"I take it as a miracle," said Patricia Johnson, recipient.
With two granddaughters at home, Patricia Johnson is among their ranks.
"I think everyone is really happy because it's making ends, especially for the ones that have very low income and some that don't have any income at this time," said Patricia Johnson.
After the food is sorted, cars line up out of the parking lot as folks wait to get their share. The boxes are designed to supplement a family of four for a week.
The distribution in Depew will reach 286 people including Megan Johnson and her two-year-old son.
"It helps us out a lot. Cause I'm only 19. So it gives us something to live on," said Megan Johnson.
But before she gets her share, Meagan will pitch in to help. It's that kind of day and Depew is that kind of town.
"It's pretty tough here but I love it. I wouldn't go nowhere else. I hope everyone feel like I do. It's a miracle from heaven. This is nothing but another day that we didn't have in our house we got it today," said Meagan Johnson.
The News On 6 hopes you will join our fight against hunger in Oklahoma. Just click on the "Food For Kids" tab and you will find information and a way for you to help.