Food Bank U:
Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma's educational program about hunger and food insecurity
If you are looking for some end-of-summer stay-home activities, check out the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma’s Food Bank U. This virtual program provides fun activities that also educate children about food insecurity and nutrition. Available activities include fact sheets about hunger, healthy recipes, science projects and more.
Plus, kids can win prizes depending on the number of activities they complete!
Joss and I started with some coloring pages, which can be found here. I especially liked the page where the child can fill the plate with their version of a healthy meal. Joss’s meal consisted entirely of green beans. Obviously, that was the perfect opportunity to talk about how you get nutrients from a variety of food sources. While green beans may be healthy, you need more than just veggies for overall good nutrition!
If you want to have a more in-depth conversation about nutrition, Food Bank U offers this page on Healthy Substitutions. Talk with your kids about cutting back on salt and sugar when cooking, replacing white flour with wheat flour, etc. Then, take a favorite recipe and try making some of the substitutions you’ve discussed!
We also tried making the Food Bank’s recipe for Peanut Butter Apple Rings.
They were delicious, particularly because we opted for the optional topping of chocolate, ha.
Under the Hunger 101 section of Food Bank U, you can find information sheets about hunger and food insecurity. Did you know that, in Oklahoma, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are hungry?
After sharing some of these Hunger Facts with your children, the sheet provides activities prompts, such as, “Draw a picture of how it feels to be hungry.” Other prompts include starting a donation jar for coins that will eventually be given to the Food Bank, writing a Thank-you letter to Food Bank volunteers, etc.
Activity Trackers and Prizes
Food Bank U also has sections on Science and Gardening, with science experiments, fact sheets about the importance of bees, and other activities. If you do any Food Bank U activities, record your work on their Activity Tracker. Email an Activity Tracker to the Food Bank for each activity you accomplish. If you do at least five, you’ll get a prize!
Screenshot from okfoodbank.org
An example of one of the prizes kids can earn through Food Bank U
An Interview with Karen Mirando, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator
I asked the Food Bank to answer some additional questions about Food Bank U. Many thanks to Karen Mirando for her responses!
How did Food Bank U originate? Is this its first year? Why do you think it’s an important program for kids?
Rochelle Dowdell, our Chief Advancement Officer, has always had a vision for educational programming dedicated to youth. Currently, we have a Junior Ambassador Program for high school students. This program includes learning about hunger issues and advocacy, non-profit organizations, and fundraising.
Knowing children have extra time at home because of the pandemic and with the generous support of our Presenting Sponsor Bank of Oklahoma, we decided now is the time to launch Food Bank U. We believe it is important to teach empathy and awareness to young people. By providing education, engagement and resources to students, our youth can become change-makers in our community. As the Food Bank U mission states: “Through discovery, youth can make an impact in their community. These activities are designed to engage, educate and impower youth K-8 in hunger awareness and creative solutions
Will Food Bank U be an ongoing program?
Yes, Food Bank U will be ongoing. The month of September is Hunger Awareness Month, so we will formally launch the program this month. We will update and add activities throughout the year.
What ages are Food Bank U most suited to? Can you provide an example of an activity that a younger kid would enjoy, and then one for older kids?
The activities are geared to ages K-8. Most of the activities are broad – you can take an activity and make it as simple and beginner as you like, or you can groom that activity to be more complex. A younger child will enjoy drawing a chalk mural of food. This helps them remember that 1 in 3 children in our community will go to bed hungry. Older kids will enjoy Magic Milk a science experiment, which demonstrates how the different kinds of molecules in milk move and react.
What other programs for kids does the Food Bank have? Both for kids needing food and for kids wishing to get involved in volunteering?
In addition to Food Bank U and Junior Ambassadors, we provide volunteer opportunities for children as young as ten years old in our Volunteer Center. This is where we do our packing, assembling, labeling and sorting. Before the pandemic restricted some of our opportunities, we held a Family Night event once a month. Children as young as 8 could volunteer. On Family Night, we have a special theme, prizes, and refreshments. It is a great opportunity for parents and grandparents to model volunteering to their children and provides a fun family activity. We are looking forward for that event to return!
We also often have requests for young children to come and tour. On the tour, we talk about hunger issues in basic terms and can plan a simple activity. We’re looking to incorporating Food Bank U into those requests.
For our kids needing food, we have many programs supporting children and their families. Our Backpack for Kids Program provides nutritious kid-friendly food to food insecure students to take home on Fridays. The School Pantry Program for low income middle and high school students and their families tries to meet the needs of older students in terms of appetite, choice and appeal.
The Schools Out, Meals In and the Food Bank Mobile Eatery provides meals at various locations for children and families. Our Culinary Center will produce thousands of meals each week to be distributed through the Summer Feeding Program at a variety of feeding sites. The Free Farmer’s Market provides fresh produce and bakery goods to low income students and families through a partnership with the Community Action Project. I know I’ve left something out, but these are just a few of the programs we have initiating in in our community! [Editor’s Note: Learn more about all these programs here.]
A Final Note: Hunger Action Month
September is Hunger Action Month. Find day-by-day activity suggestions on the Food Bank’s Hunger Action Month calendar. Learn more about what the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is doing in support of Hunger Action month at https://okfoodbank.org/hunger-action-month/.