Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, Tulsa

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, Tulsa

Article excerpt

To experience one of today's sad ironies - and one of the best examples of forward thinking in Tulsa's history - take a tour of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

While Oklahomans pride themselves on their sustained economic strength through the last recession and today's shaky recovery, many citizens still struggle to meet their daily nutritional needs. Operations at the Tulsa food bank vividly demonstrate that, its distribution growing from about 7 million pounds annually less than a decade ago to 17.9 million pounds in fiscal 2011 and 15.5 million in fiscal 2012, which ended June 30.

Agencies working with the Community Food Bank have endured a 40- percent rise in the number of people seeking help, said Development Manager Amy Cannon.

Luckily Tulsa leaders recognized such potential demand even before the 2008 recession struck home.

With $3.2 million in private contributions and $10.2 million in grants from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, in 2006 the Community Food Bank moved into its new, 78,000-square-foot home. That 1304 N. Kenosha Ave. warehouse, office and catering kitchen provided three times the space of the nonprofit's old home, with storage and distribution capacity for 20 million pounds of produce, household goods and other needy products.

Though few people anticipated that Tulsa would need such resources so quickly, the building's design and capabilities proved up to the challenge.

With its giant refrigerator and freezer, the warehouse segment can handle up to 4 million pounds of food at a time, Cannon told a recent Leadership Tulsa tour group.

"If we were to stop receiving food today, it would be emptied in about a month and a half to two months," she said.

Its trucks pick up donations daily not just from distributors and groceries, but also restaurants and growers. The products they receive may range from leftover broiled chicken or grilled steak to excess shampoo or discontinued cereals.

"We don't turn away anything," Cannon said. …

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