MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 29, 2012

Group’s goal: full plates for all

Effort aims to coordinate food pantries, meal programs

— Muskogee Cooperative Ministries is looking for better ways for Muskogee’s needy to find adequate food.

MCM officials want to see what programs are addressing hunger in Muskogee and to get them working together, said Cindy McAdoo, a member of MCM’s Food Security Task Force.

“There are certainly a lot of hungry people out there,” McAdoo said. “Every food pantry in town has to be conscientious about what they are doing.”

And not just food pantries. The Rev. Linda Morgan Clark, MCM treasurer, said the task force also wants to work with various meals on wheels programs, “backpack” feeding programs for children and other programs.

The United Nations World Food Summit of 1996 said food security exists “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”

Clark said, “We continue to work on finding ways to assess food security in Muskogee.”

One concern is to determine the number of food pantries and figure out how they can work together, she said.

McAdoo said, “There are a lot of different groups doing things in regards to hunger.

“We want to identify who’s available, where the need is and what everyone can bring to the table.”

McAdoo said the task force is in its infancy and only has individuals who belong to Muskogee Cooperative Ministries.

“At MCM we have so many areas that are addressing hunger,” she said, citing the MCM food pantry at First Presbyterian Church as an example.

“We want to see what other people are out there,” she said.

One example of improving food security in Muskogee could be to have food banks open on weekends, she said, adding that many Muskogee food banks are open only on weekdays or in the morning.

“And hunger doesn’t just happen at 11 a.m. on weekdays,” she said. “A lot of the working poor cannot afford to take off work to go to a food bank.”

The Community First Center at First Baptist Church does in-person referrals from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Community First Director Pam Griffith said the center refers people to four food pantries as well as its own pantry. They are the MCM food pantry, the Ark of Faith, Gospel Rescue Mission and The Salvation Army. She said the referrals help cut down on people abusing food pantries and enable the pantries to help more people who need it.

Griffith said she does see a gap with people who work and cannot make it to a food pantry on a weekday.

“Maybe there could be somebody to work on weekends, but we would need someone to handle referrals,” she said.

The MCM pantry at First Presbyterian Church does a good job of helping people, she said. It is open from 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

An answering machine at the Ark of Faith says the ministry is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with a continental breakfast at 10 a.m., lunch at noon. Food and clothing are given out from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Food Security Task Force also wants to address needs faced by meals on wheels programs, Clark said. Muskogee County Community Action Foundation operates a meals on wheels program. MCM has meals on wheels programs that operates out of some Muskogee churches.

“We are committed to serving individuals the county does not serve,” Clark said.

She said MCM learned much more about hunger in Muskogee through the Circles program and Bridges Out of Poverty program, a long-term initiative to help people change mind-sets that keep them in poverty.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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