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Would You Do Something If You Knew People Were Starving Around You?
Hip bus resembles a party bus, but instead brings food to those in need to fight hunger in Oklahoma food deserts and low-income areas, where food insecurity runs rampant
By: Filling Tummies
Many in the Oklahoma City community want to use the cities positive-growth and momentum from the Oklahoma City Thunder and vibrant businesses in the area for social good. One such person is Lisa Blacknoll, founder of a local 501(c)(3) non-profit, called Filling Tummies. Lisa is gearing up to bring a mobile market that travels the Oklahoma City streets and suburbs to the highest at-risk areas and food deserts. The mobile market is a swanky refurbished old school bus driven with a mission to provide access to healthy, nutritious and local food, while at the same time filling the gap that brick-and-mortar non-profit centers miss. For low income groups without transportation, the benefits the mobile market will have on their health will be substantial.
Blacknoll has held an interest in local food and gardens since she was very young. Growing up, her grandmother in Pawhuska, Oklahoma was a gardener and Blacknoll had the love for eating her greens. "I started planting a garden as a single mom, when my son was three, and after the summer season I remember planting only greens (mustard & turnip) for a fall garden. We'd have a "greens party", as we tossed green seeds in the air, letting them fall where they may. Believe it or not it was a huge success - we blanched and froze enough greens to eat them each Sunday for an entire year".
That love for fresh food and gardening found its way into Lisa's heart once again as she envisioned ideas to deal with the problem of lower-income communities having little or no access to healthy, local foods. Lisa realized that children who lack food suffer in school. Rather than sitting idly she assembled a board of mothers across different industries, along with one junior board member, and they launched Filling Tummies. First with a community garden and now with the mobile market. The mobile market allows Filling Tummies to reach many in the community who live in food deserts and in some cases lack transportation.
The Filling Tummies mobile market method of bringing healthy food and farmers' markets to low-income communities that have limited or no access to nutritious food options, enables and encourages individuals to eat local healthy food and promotes social equality. The mobile market supports local small farms by providing more outlets to share their food, while at the same time helps local communities by supplying access to healthy, local food, regardless of income level. In addition to fresh foods, the mobile market's interior of the bus includes staples such as oatmeal, breads, and nuts.
Lisa's passion was driven by the shear shock of learning the statistics on food insecurity in her home state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is one of the hungriest states in the nation. One in six Oklahomans struggles with hunger (Feeding America, 2017). For infants, a lack of food, debilitates development;
The hard-cold facts:
Children - 1 in 4 Oklahoma children is at risk of going to bed hungry, "Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap"
Seniors - 1 in 4 Oklahoma seniors (age 60+) struggle with hunger, "AARP's Food Security Among Older Adults"
Statewide - 17 percent of the Oklahoma statewide population is considered food insecure, leaving 652,090 Oklahomans (more than 250,000
children) unsure where they will get their next meal, "Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap"
Oklahoma Counties - Out of 77 counties, 76 contain areas of low access to large grocery stores, Oklahoma Food Banks (2017). "An Overview of Food Deserts in Oklahoma": June 2017
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - Currently helps 13.9% of Oklahoma households, although many food insecure individuals are not financially eligible for the program, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015
Blacknoll believes no one should not have to worry about where their next meal will come from. It should not matter how much money you make, or where you live…clearly everyone deserves food. Some people say that giving food away for free, just puts a Band-aid on the problem, when in fact it improves the health of the community, and touches the lives of individuals. Showing a person that someone cares is all that some people need to give them a new start.
"This mobile market is a game changer when it comes to servicing the community with food. With large oil and aerospace industries in Oklahoma we know that it's only a matter of time before we the rubber hits the road! Knowing the numbers show 1 in 6 Oklahomans suffer from food insecurity, we believe Oklahomans will not let their fellow neighbors go hungry"-Lisa Blacknoll.
If you believe Americans should not have to go hungry, contribute to the mission at https://www.fillingtummies.com/