Newspaper staff collecting food through Dec. 18
By Jeff Harrison
It’s the giving season, and the Midwest City Beacon staff is asking people to get into the spirit with their third annual food drive.
During the next few weeks, the newspaper will be hosting a food drive to benefit the Mid-Del Food Pantry. Donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted at the Beacon office, 1500 S. Midwest Blvd., Ste. 202, until noon Monday, Dec. 18.
The office is located on the second floor of the Bank of Oklahoma building, on the northeast corner of Midwest Blvd. and SE 15th St. The building has an elevator in the back hallway. Beacon staff will deliver the donations to the food bank on Dec. 18. The results of the effort will be announced in the Dec. 22 issue of the paper.
Last year, readers donated enough food to provide 95 meals for needy families. That marked an 18 percent improvement over the inaugural food drive in 2015. The Beacon staff is aiming to provide 120 meals this year.
The holidays are always a busy time for the pantry, according to director Mike Anderson. He said many people are stretched thin with holiday bills and providing meals for children who are out of school.
“People are trying to make their money go as far as they can this time of year, and we’re glad to help those in need,” he said.
The Mid-Del Food Pantry has also seen a decline in local food drives over the past few years. Anderson said they used to receive about 25,000 pounds of food from school food drives. But the numbers have dwindled as more and more schools have shifted support to the Regional Food Bank.
“The school food drives would carry us through the winter, but we’re only getting donations from one or two schools now,” Anderson said. “The Regional Food Bank is great, but they cover 53 counties. So there’s no telling where the food is going. Every last can we get will go to help people here.”
Anderson believes the shift in support is due in part to the Regional Food Bank’s backpack program that provides food for needy children on the weekends.
All non-perishable food donations will be accepted. Anderson said the most needed items include: peanut butter, jelly, packaged meals such as Hamburger Helper, and canned vegetables and soups.
“We can always use peanut butter and jelly,” Anderson said. “It has good nutrition and it’s one of the most expensive items we buy. And seniors like it and so do families with children.”
The Mid-Del Food Pantry serves people across eastern Oklahoma County, with the majority from Midwest City, Del City and Choctaw. The pantry feeds about 150 households per week and about 14,000 people annually.
“We serve a lot of different types of people,” Anderson said. “We have some people with medical issues, and we see a lot of grandparents and great grandparents that have custody of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. A lot of them are on fixed incomes so they’re at their wits end trying to take care of the kids. It’s not just people who aren’t working. There are a lot of reasons why people need assistance.”
Anderson said they screen all visitors and check income levels. All clients must provide identification, proof of residence in eastern Oklahoma County and verify the number of people in the household. People can only visit the food bank once every 30 days.
“We provide a lot of USDA commodities so we need to verify that people meet a certain income level,” Anderson said. “It’s a good screening process that makes sure the right people get the help.”
The Mid-Del Food Pantry relies on donations from people and local businesses. They receive regular donations of produce and canned goods from the Walmart in Del City, Walmart Marketplace and Crest Foods in Midwest City. The pantry receives a limited amount of USDA commodities every month and buys other items from the Regional Food Bank or local stores.
Unlike other food pantries, the Mid-Del Food Bank fills orders according to the needs and the number of people in a household. People are also able to select their own produce.
“Every household is different so we don’t give out pre-packaged boxes,” he said.
The Mid-Del Food Pantry was formed in 1984 by a local ministerial alliance. The pantry is a 501 “c” 3 organization and is funded entirely by donations. It is an independent organization, but is supported by many churches, civic groups and individuals.
The Mid-Del Food Pantry, 322 N. Midwest Blvd., is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The food pantry is closed during lunch from noon to 1 p.m.
For more information about the Midwest City Beacon Food Drive call (405) 455-1110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org