Last year more than 48,000 volunteers donated their time to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. That saved the non-profit nearly $3 million in labor, allowing more money to go to their mission which is feeding the hungry.
The food bank distributes enough food to feed more than 90,000 hungry Oklahomans each week. Knowing it's still not enough, an expansion of the Regional Food Bank is underway.
"We're real excited about adding more volunteer space so we can accommodate more people and then we're also putting in a production kitchen and we're going to be producing meals for children and we'll be able to use volunteers in the kitchen also," said Rodney Bivens, Executive Director for the Regional Food Bank.
Increasing the dry and frozen food storage space will allow more bulk donations, food purchases and increased distribution. The new production kitchen will allow them to make healthy meals on site for childhood hunger programs, like Summer Feeding and Kids Cafe.
"We're going to be producing 1,500 meals a day," said Bivens. "We're going to ramp that up to 5,000 in the first six months and eventually going to 10,000 a day, all for children."
The expansion also will improve the volunteer center to accommodate a growing volunteer base.
"Thirty-three percent of all the food that gets distributed and we distributed 47.8 million last year, so between 15 and 20 million pounds of food every year is touched by a volunteer, they're our life blood, we couldn't exist without them," said Bivens.
The renovations will help increase food assistance resources to some of the most underserved areas in central and western Oklahoma. There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities.