Feb  2014 28
A Day at the Food Bank

Staff and faculty gathered together to volunteer at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma on Friday, Feb. 28. The Phillips volunteers also took a tour of the largest private hunger-relief organization in eastern Oklahoma.

During the tour, the volunteers learned that one in every six Oklahomans faces hunger every day, but in Tulsa, that number is one in four. Several volunteers shared how the experience opened their eyes to the extent of hunger and food insecurity in eastern Oklahoma, including Chief Financial Officer Lora Conger.

"You can talk about hunger and food insecurity, but to be here and sort through the food takes it to a whole new level,”  she said. “It makes it a little bit more real.”

Susanna Southard, who serves as pastor to the community, said she learned a lot about the donation process.

“I learned a lot about how important it is to meet the criteria,”  said Southard. “From this experience, I’m going to be smarter about what and how I give.”

The food bank combats hunger by serving food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and senior citizen centers in eastern Oklahoma. It also provides educational opportunities such as healthy cooking classes for low income individuals.

“I didn’t realize what a large operation it was,”  said Jules Esslinger, the hospitality and building care manager for Phillips. “I walked in and I thought, ‘Wow.’ I’m glad to be a part of this.”

Stewardship Director Geoff Brewster said he felt the experience put faith into action both for the volunteers and for the seminary.

“It’s one thing to talk about serving others and the community,”  said Brewster. “It’s another thing to be actively engaged.”

Josh Linton, the director of recruitment, agreed that volunteering at the food bank was a great way to practice what the seminary preaches.

“Our tagline is ‘Cultivating vital communities, vital conversations, and the public good.’ I guess we better darn well do it.”

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