In an abundance of caution and in compliance with orders from state and local officials, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma will close its volunteer opportunities to the public, effective Wednesday, March 25, until further notice.
“We appreciate the leadership of both Gov. Stitt and Mayor Holt on taking measures to keep at-risk populations as safe as possible while still allowing us to serve the one in six Oklahomans facing hunger as well as those impacted by the shutdowns,” said Deb Bunting, interim CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “We thank everyone who has volunteered since the COVID-19 pandemic reached our state and want to assure all that the safety of volunteers, staff and the fellow Oklahomans we serve is a top priority.”
In place of volunteers, the Regional Food Bank staff will work shifts to continue to prepare emergency food boxes to be distributed to community-based partner agencies in central and western Oklahoma. The staff will continue to operate under the new volunteer model that adheres to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines. The Regional Food Bank continues to operate in Disaster Response mode as it works to provide food assistance to Oklahomans who are food insecure and the increasing number of Oklahomans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is the very mission of the Regional Food Bank to provide food assistance where needed in our service area and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” Bunting said. “Challenging times such as these require us to be innovative and make the most of our resources and that’s what we are doing.”
The Regional Food Bank’s partner agencies report a nearly 25% increase in the number of people they are serving this week. The Food & Resource Center in Moore served 130 households on Monday and more than 30 families were visiting for the first time.
“We can’t thank our partner agencies enough for serving on the frontlines to fight hunger each and every day and now helping to meet the additional need as a result of the COVID-19 impact,” Bunting said. “Our work would truly not be possible without these valued partners.”
Anyone in need of food assistance should visit rfbo.org/get-help to find a pantry closest to their home. It is recommended to first call the pantry to confirm hours of operations and if any restrictions are in place. They can also call the Regional Food Bank at 405-972-1111 during workdays.