A federal program providing affordable meals to individuals through food banks is set to end this month, which could lead to a significant cut in supply for affordable meal providers.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma has received boxes of fresh produce, meat, dairy, and more through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP since late May. By the end of November, the nonprofit had received more than five million pounds, or 294,620 boxes through the program.
“It has been an amazing gift to help us meet this growing need in our state,” said Stacy Dykstra, the CEO of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
The demand for affordable meals has grown by roughly 30% since the start of the pandemic, according to a spokesperson for the food bank.
Although the demand is not expected to disappear at the end of the year, the last CFAP delivery will arrive at Oklahoma food banks on Dec. 23.
The CFAP program was funded by the federal CARES Act, which expires at the end of the year. Federal lawmakers could extend the program in a new relief package; however, nothing has been passed.
Dykstra said extending the program or temporarily adding to other food access programs like SNAP could help communities prevent hunger and stimulate the local economy.
“It’s keeping farmers working, it’s stimulating our economy, and it’s making sure that people aren’t going to bed hungry,” she said.
In the month of November, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma distributed the equivalent of 3.6 million meals, according to a spokesperson.
Anyone looking for help finding a meal can visit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s website or call 405-972-1111.