Annual fundraiser and food drive began Monday and will continue through June 2 to benefit local families.

MIAMI – Arvest Bank’s 1 Million Meals initiative challenges bank associates, customers, and community members to participate in fundraising efforts and nonperishable food drives to fight hunger in the more than 120 communities the bank serves. The initiative is needed, as Oklahoma ranks 8th among the most food-insecure states in the nation, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Arvest kicked off the two-month, bank-wide effort Monday to provide at least one million meals to local, hungry families, and it will continue through June 2. The initiative will conclude later that month when donations are presented to 75-plus locally selected organizations that feed the hungry in their communities.

Arvest in Miami has partnered with Miami First United Methodist Church and their backpack program for the duration of the initiative. All donations received at the Miami branch will go to this organization to provide meals to local, hungry families.

Miami residents can participate in 1 Million Meals by dropping off nonperishable food items or making monetary donations at the Arvest branch in Miami or calling (866) 952-9523. Arvest credit card customers also can donate Arvest Flex Rewards™ points by visiting arvestflexrewards.com and clicking on the 1 Million Meals banner. Every dollar raised through 1 Million Meals provides the equivalent of five meals for those in need.

“Kicking off our 1 Million Meals campaign is always an exciting time,” Chad Evans, Arvest Bank president for the Joplin market said. “Our associates look forward to joining Miami First United Methodist Church, our customers, and the community to fight hunger.

“The donations we raise here in Miami stay local and that’s important. Arvest is happy to provide a boost during the summer, which traditionally has been a challenge in terms of fundraising and providing meals to those who need them.”

Arvest is conducting its annual initiative in the spring for the third consecutive year due to the fact food banks report an increased need for food items in the summer, when many children do not have the benefit of eating meals at the schools they attend. According to the Food Research and Action Center, for example, only one out of seven children who ate a free or reduced-priced school lunch during the 2015-2016 school year were reached by the Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2016. Donations to food banks also tend to be lower in the spring and summer than at other times of the year.

For more information about 1 Million Meals, visit arvest.com.