For someone needing support in an unexpected or crisis situation, the Tahlequah CARE Food Pantry can provide emergency food rations.
The emergency grocery program is supported by a group of local churches, private donations and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
To receive the support, people need to be ready to provide a picture ID, social security information and an address, said CARE Food Pantry Manager Rebecca Baughman. Food is provided every other month to participants.
“They have to be a resident of Cherokee County. We don’t ask them to prove that, but we do ask them for an address,” she said. “We don’t have an income requirement. When they come in, they have to bring a picture ID for themselves and a social security card for themselves and every member of their family.”
The CARE Food Pantry, 220 N. Muskogee, is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Baughman said some changes are happening at the pantry as a result of the tough economic status faced by many people and organizations. Clients will no longer be given a week’s worth of food. The sack lunch program, though, is still being offered in the same fashion.
“We’re going to drop back down to a three- to four-day supply of food because we have to buy so much of it,” she said. “I was just so pleased Congress signed the farm bill, because it extended the food stamp program, and it extended the commodity food program.”
Another factor contributing to limiting supplies given to clients is the continued drought that has impacted farmers and ranchers who provide food for commodities programs.
“There hasn’t been much surplus for the commodity program. So, really, we have not been able to get very much food from the food bank in Tulsa,” said Baughman. “Now they have had some things they have purchased and turn around to sell us on a reduced rate. I’ve been able to order some food from there, but not anywhere near the amount of food we used to get.”
Though supplies aren’t plentiful, Baughman said the pantry will do what it can with what it has, and noted appreciation for members of the community that provide food or donations when possible.
“We intend to do our best. We’re not closing by any stretch of the imagination,” she said. “We’re having to buy more things, but one of the good things we have is we live in a community that is extremely generous. We’ve had a number of individuals who donated money or they come by and ask ‘what do you need’ and they go and get it.”
Baughman said client numbers haven’t increased dramatically, despite the economy.
“There’s been an increase, it’s just not as great an increase as you would expect,” she said. “Right now, I think we’re doing a really good job of providing them with food.”
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