Students feed community through volunteer work
With more than 675,000 Oklahomans being at risk of being hungry each day, the need for assistance in solving this problem is great. OCCC’s students often help with this cause and will continue to do so at the Regional Food Bank service trip, which will take place from noon to 4 p.m Nov. 8, said Angie Gaines, marketing and communication director for the Regional Food Bank.
Gaines said the Regional Food Bank disburses enough food each week to feed more than 90,000 Oklahomans. In FY 2013, 47.9 million pounds of food was distributed.
There are a total of eight programs where the food bank reaches out to hungry people, Gaines said.
Some of the programs provide help for seniors, before and after school food for kids, and a garden that contributes to the amount of food for distribution.
Gaines said for every $1 donated, the food bank is able to provide five meals. To make this an attainable goal, volunteers are required, she said.
Gaines said volunteers at the food bank touch one-third of the products going out. The food bank would not be able to operate without them.
“[They] saved us $3 million in food cost,” said Gaines, referring to volunteers last year.
In a usual volunteer shift, which lasts three hours, there are normally anywhere from 170 to 200 people, she said.
Abby Vershage, psychology major, said she volunteered because it was something that she would like to help with.
“My church did something like it previously, and so I thought it would be something I was interested in.”
While volunteering, students can expect to help sort food pack backpacks, which is a part of the backpack program the Food Bank has for kids.
Gaines said the backpacks have non-perishable food items inside. They are sent home with about 15,000 elementary school students each weekend.
Sacks of food are packed as well, she said, and sent to senior citizens who cannot afford food due to fixed incomes.
Students also will repackage items, such as frozen peas, Gaines said. The items the food bank receives are often in bulk, so volunteers help put them into smaller boxes that can be distributed more easily.
Packing boxes is a major part of what the Food Bank does, Gaines said. The boxes often go to families who are in need.
Vershage said volunteering a small amount of time can make a big difference.
“There’s a lot of starving people that you hear about in other countries, but in Oklahoma I heard there’s like one in four kids here. By helping out at the Regional Food Bank, you are helping people starving here in America.”
Courtney Meikle, physical therapy major, did not volunteer for this trip, but is interested in going on one in the future.
“It shows that [students] are involved in the community.”
Gaines said students will be able to help their community and make a difference in the lives of hungry neighbors.
The registration deadline for going on the service trip is Nov. 7. There are currently 10 registration spaces remaining.
For more information contact the Student Life office at 405-682-7523 or sign up through the Student Life website under the service day registration at www.occc.edu/studentlife/serviceday.