Gov. Mary Fallin launched her fourth annual Feeding Oklahoma Food Drive on Tuesday with a goal of collecting enough food for 1.4 million meals to help feed hungry families in the state.
Standing in front of pallets of food at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, one of the agencies that will benefit from the drive, Fallin called on Oklahomans to donate to the monthlong drive she made her inaugural event after her election in 2010.
"We know Oklahomans are known for their generosity and kind spirit," Fallin said. "I think it's one of the most important things we do for our fellow citizens of Oklahoma, and that is to help those who may have food insufficiency to be able to have access to not only food, but fresh fruits and vegetables, so they can have better health and a better quality of life."
Oklahoma consistently ranks among the top 10 hungriest states in the nation, with more than 675,000 residents facing hunger each day, Fallin said.
She urged Oklahomans to donate non-perishable items at BancFirst locations, Bob Moore car dealerships, metro-area Love's Travel Stops, and certain AT&T locations.
Fallin set a goal of providing 1.2 million meals during last year's drive, and more than doubled that with 2.6 million meals provided. She said she hopes to surpass 2 million meals again this year.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma in Tulsa, along with their partner agencies across the state, will benefit from the drive. Most of the Oklahomans who will benefit from the donations are children, seniors and the working poor, said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
"People struggling to get by have to do without a lot of things. Food shouldn't be one of them," Bivens said.
About 25 percent of the food that was donated during last year's drive was fresh fruits and vegetables, typically one of the first types of foods people on a budget give up, Bivens said.