Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma continues its mission to end hunger during Hunger Action Month.

EASTERN OKLAHOMA – September is national Hunger Action Month, and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma has announced it will be working with Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks to mobilize across all 50 states in an effort to bring an end to hunger.

Founded in 1981, the Food Bank is one of the largest, private hunger-relief organizations in Oklahoma with branches in Tulsa and McAlester to distribute donated items to 450 Partner Programs in 24 counties of eastern Oklahoma.

Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs they provide meals to more than 46 million people each year.

Hunger Action Month is designed to inspire people to take action and raise awareness of the fact that over 42 million Americans, including 13 million children, are food insecure, according to the USDA.

Over 630,000 Oklahoma citizens are food insecure, which means they don’t always know where they will get food for their next meal. In addition, one in four Oklahoma children may go to bed hungry at night.

Oklahoma is one of 12 states where food insecurity is higher than the national average.

Ottawa County has a 17.9 percent food insecurity rate, a 29.6 percent child food insecurity rate, and 11.7 percent of seniors living in poverty, according to the most recent statistics compiled by Feeding America.

“I’ve spent many days on the road this past year, visiting food banks, food pantries, and meal programs and meeting people who are facing hunger,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “I’ve seen firsthand the anguish that food insecurity and hunger can cause. It is always heartbreaking to meet a mother or father who fears that they will not be able to feed their children. They know that their children cannot reach their full potential if they don’t have enough to eat.”

“Hunger affects people in every part of every county in Oklahoma,” said Eileen Bradshaw, executive director of the Food Bank. “Everyone knows someone who is hungry – chances are they are just not eager to announce it. The good news is we all have the ability to help.”

For Hunger Action Month the Food Bank has pulled together simple activities that everyone can do, each day of September with its 30 Ways in 30 Days Calendar. There are also several events planned for the month such as:

Restaurant Week Sept. 8-17 Food for Thought Lunch at the Food Bank Sept. 13 Girls Night Out on Sept. 14 Food Bank Open House on Sept. 19 Take A Seat Events Sept. 22-Oct. 1

By advocating and raising awareness, making donations or volunteering, there are opportunities through the Food Bank to find the way that is right for community members, businesses, and organizations to make a difference during September.

Hunger Action Month provides the opportunity to create a movement throughout the month that has a real and lasting impact on the Food Bank's mission to fight hunger in eastern Oklahoma and across America.

The Hunger Action Month 2017 campaign asks people to consider how it must feel to live with an empty stomach, which puts a healthy life and a promising future at risk.

Supporters are asked to share what they couldn’t do without adequate nutrition by writing on an empty plate, “On an empty stomach I can’t ______,” and filling in the blank with something they couldn’t achieve without the nutrition needed to thrive. A second plate is also encouraged, this one highlighting what individuals can do to combat hunger. These photos can be posted to social media with #HungerActionMonth, @okfoodbank, and @FeedingAmerica to join the conversation.

To learn more about the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and other ways to get involved in Hunger Action Month, visit the events tab at okfoodbank.org and look for Hunger Action Month.