Published 04/02/2020 | Reading Time 5 min 28 sec
TULSA, Okla. – Hunger Free Oklahoma is pairing locally-owned restaurants with Tulsa Public Schools sites to provide free meals to struggling families in this time of unprecedented crisis. The program goals are to keep local kitchens open, keep workers paid, and keep local families fed.
“We are grateful to Mayor Bynum, Bruce Dart, and other leaders for making critical decisions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Tulsa,” said Chris Bernard, executive director at Hunger Free Oklahoma. “We are also grateful to so many of our community partners who are working at or above capacity to make sure Tulsans in need have access to food, including two of our partners in this program the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and Tulsa Public Schools. Finally, we are grateful to the Foundations who are supporting so many efforts around the city including this one.”“Tulsa Kitchens Unite” is mutually beneficial as it provides relief to the service industry by paying kitchens to produce low-cost dinners which will be pre-chilled and distributed at Tulsa Public Schools and other community sites at no cost to the recipients. Tulsans who are struggling during this unprecedented economic downturn will have an additional resource to help feed their whole family.
Chimera, Blue Dome Market, Lefty’s on Greenwood, and Catering by PARTYSERVE are the first kitchens to partner in the program. Together these establishments and other partners who sign on will work to produce 30,000 meals per week once the program hits its full capacity. HFO is partnering with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to help with pick up from kitchens, and delivery/distribution at designated sites. The meals are catered for the whole family and will be nutritionally balanced adult portions; the program is partnering with Tulsa Public Schools to distribute at various TPS meal sites to pilot the project and ensure that their students have dinners and their parents who are struggling can eat too.
“This program is bringing immense hope in such difficult times,” said Rob Stuart, co-owner of Chimera which will serve as one of the kitchen partners. “Our cooks get to cook, our business stays busy, and families in need are fed. We’re grateful to live in a community that mirrors our ideals and values, and especially grateful to Foundations and others who will invest in programs like Tulsa Kitchens Unite.”
Stuart and Bernard also partnered with local printing company Mythic Press and local artists, who are feeling the negative impacts of COVID-19, to design shirts to be sold in support of the program. Shirts can be purchased online https://tulsakitchensunite.itemorder.com/sale for $20 each and proceeds will go into the “Tulsa Kitchens Unite” fund.
Hunger Free Oklahoma is actively seeking additional partner kitchens, visit HungerFreeOK.org/TulsaKitchensUnite for complete details and to complete a partner interest form.
“You’ll notice we didn’t limit it to restaurants,” said Bernard, “If you’ve got a food truck, a catering business, or any local business with the capacity to prepare the specified meals and chill them at our specifications – we would love to talk to you.”
So far, the program has funding commitments from the Coretz Family Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation, and Maxine & Jack Zarrow Family Foundation. Tulsa Kitchens Unite has set a goal of running the program for 12 weeks averaging 30,000 meals per week after initial ramp-up. Hunger Free Oklahoma has raised enough to run the program for at least six weeks but is actively working to raise more funds. People can donate to the cause at http://www.bit.ly/DonateToTKU.
Meal distribution days, times and locations will be coordinated in the coming days with partner sites and kitchens. “Tulsa Kitchens Unite” plans to begin next week at several pilot sites. The kitchen interest form and program details can be found at: www.HungerFreeOK.com/TulsaKitchensUnite
About Hunger Free Oklahoma
The Hunger Free Oklahoma mission is to leverage the power of collaboration to solve hunger in Oklahoma by improving systems, policies, and practices. Learn more at www.HungerFreeOK.org.
Additional Food Resources Coordinated by HFO
- Statewide, mobile-friendly website showing nearest meal sites for kids during school closures.
- Informational website providing resources on many food-sources during the shutdown including federal nutrition programs, crowd-sourced (and HFO-verified) community food resources, volunteer opportunities, and more.