For some students in Oklahoma, they go home from school to no food. Their only meals are the ones they get while at school.
“Just being hungry before practice, and then having to go through practice on an empty stomach is kinda hard. You really don’t have a lot of energy,” said Johnny Bizzell.
Four years ago, Bizzell was a star athlete with a 4.0 GPA student at Carl Albert High School. Things were already tight, financially, for his family. Then, there was a fire.
Bizzell and his brother shared a room in the family garage. On this night, it was extremely cold. So, he and his brother slept in his sister’s room.
“We had the space heater on, and the space heater caught the cover. So from that, it caught the fire,” said Bizzell.
The family lost everything two days before Thanksgiving. The family was able to have food through the food pantry at the school.
“We didn’t have like a smorgasbord to go back home to eat, but you know, she was able to put something on the table,” said Bizzell.
Marc Morris was Bizzell’s high school coach and he has become familiar with spotting the signs.
“Kids that are having a hard time showing up for practice, very lethargic in practice, lacking the energy or just the lack of focus,” Morris said.
It’s a delicate subject, but families need to know the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is available to help.
“That’s where the Regional Food Bank comes in, and the food pantry, that’s where those come in to play. It gives those kids something less that they have to worry about,” said Morris.
Bizzell is now a senior football player at the University of Central Oklahoma and owes a lot to the food bank and the food pantries.
“Just like how there were people that didn’t necessarily know everything I was going through, I don’t know everything someone else might be going through, so that’s where the food pantry help comes into play,” said Bizzell.
Sadly, there are literally hundreds of kids like Bizzell in schools throughout the state, and though the stories may by different for each one, the circumstances of hunger are the same. That’s why the food pantries are so necessary.