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School Pantries Help Feed Oklahoma Families

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The Regional Food Bank provides back packs of food to kids in need, but some families need help all week long. The Regional Food Bank provides back packs of food to kids in need, but some families need help all week long.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The Regional Food Bank provides back packs of food to kids in need, but some families need help all week long.

"Oh my goodness my kids eat like grown adults," said Crysta Routh who has six mouths to feed. "Anytime I go grocery shopping, anything I bring only last a few days no matter how much I buy."

So she depends on help from the school pantry that's part of the WHIRE, a resource center open to those who live in the Western Heights School District.

"Sometimes they needed a little more than that weekend snack so we try to help them," said Angel Sanchez, WHIRE Manager. "We have a walk in freezer so we're able to get them meats and that's a little different than most school pantries and we try to give them the staples."

Families can come to the pantry once a month to help supplement their groceries at home. The pantry is part of the Regional Food Bank's Food for Kids School Pantry. The program started in 2010 as a pilot program at Putnam City West High School and Western Heights Middle School after learning of malnourished football players and students at PC West. The School Pantry Program provides chronically hungry middle and high school students with food to sustain them after school and over the weekends and school holidays. Groceries that help families like Crysta's -- keep food on the table.

"They can devour just about anything I take in so it does help to be able to do this," said Routh.

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma also sends backpacks of food home to more than 80 percent of the kids at Western Heights, to help them make it through the weekend.

"They need the nutrition to keep them focused on their education and they're not worried about when they're going to eat or what they're going to eat when they get home," said Sanchez.

The School Pantry Program currently serves more than 4,800 students in 124 middle/high schools in 32 counties. Overall, the program provided the equivalent of 619,311 meals for students struggling with hunger.

"It gives a sense of hope back to the community, it gives a sense of help back to the community and it is also teaching my children not to be selfish," said Routh.

The WHIRE pantry is open from 9 pm to 3 pm, Monday through Friday and is open to anyone who lives in the Western Heights School District.

https://www.regionalfoodbank.org/programs/school-pantry

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