New coalition to tackle hunger problems in county

March 16, 2014

You may have seen the information table run by The Bryan County Coalition Against Hunger (BCCAH) at the United Way Hunger’s End 5K Run Saturday, March 8.

The Coalition was also a Gold Sponsor for 10 runners in the 5K.

Or you may have spotted BCCAH members helping sort food at the Red River Ford Food Drive last November, and the Coalition has been sticking up signs all over the county.

But who are these people, and what is The Bryan County Coalition Against Hunger?

In the short time since the Bryan County Coalition Against Hunger kicked off in mid-October, people have asked volunteers working with the project those questions and a number of others:

What is the reason for this Coalition?

Is there really much hunger in the county?

Don’t we already have plenty of food sources in the county to take care of those in need?

The Bryan County Coalition Against Hunger (BCCAH) is a group of ordinary people concerned about their neighbors. The Coalition information sheet states that these concerned people “have learned that there are many of our neighbors who usually do not have enough to eat. Both government and private studies indicate that they are in the thousands—8,000 to 10,000. And 3,000 to 4,000 are children.”

The BCCAH sheet explains the purpose of the group: “Our goal is simply to help others in our community to become aware of how serious the problem is and of what we can all do to help alleviate hunger.”

Just as hunger is not new to Bryan County, so groups that fight hunger are not new. Indeed, the county has some very good food pantries.

In addition to four major sites, two nutrition centers serve lunch Monday through Friday to needy Durant residents. Other nutrition centers are in Albany, Bennington, Bokchito, Calera, Colbert, and Mead.

Families Feeding Families and the three food pantries in Durant coordinate needs with each other. When one entity receives more of a food item than it needs, the others share the excess. Hands of Hope also supplies juice for prisoners at the Bryan County Jail and for seniors at the Durant Nutrition Site. The serving schedules are also coordinated; Hands of Hope is open four days a week—Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; St. Catherine’s House is open on Wednesday only.

In the coming months, The Bryan County Coalition Against Hunger will present many stories about people in the community who face hunger and the sources of help that are available. Next week, in an article entitled “Ain’t Bryan County Great!” we’ll give an overview of the need for food and the places that offer it.

So is there much hunger in Bryan County, and don’t we already have enough agencies to provide food to the needy?

Yes, there’s hunger in all communities in the current difficult economy, including Bryan County, Oklahoma.

No. Although Bryan County is luckier than many communities, in that we have multiple agencies and organizations working valiantly to alleviate the hunger problem here, the help still hasn’t reached everyone who needs it.

One thing these articles will strive to do is to recognize and applaud the various businesses and community groups which subsidize food pantries, hold food drives, and generally contribute to solving the problem—and which help to make Bryan County a progressive community and a great place to live.

Anyone who is short of food and need help, please call either Pam Mitchell-Robinson at United Way, 580-931-7147 or Sue Stanfield at Hands of Hope Food Pantry, 580-920-2574. Help is available.

Those who would like to add their names as a supporter of The Bryan County Coalition Against Hunger (no money involved), or to tell them about efforts that an organization, church, or business is making, has recently done, or is planning to do in the near future to help feed the hungry, or to find out more about our work, please call either Joe Littlejohn at 580-924-2845 or Marion Hill at 580-924-7715.