*This post was first shared via the Ardmoreite on July 17, 2020.
In the wake of the global COVID 19 response, with service disruptions in many agencies and temporary food distribution programs, some local residents may not be aware that the Food and Resource Center is a full-time offering in Ardmore.
“We are open,” said James Rosson, executive director of the Food and Resource of South Central Oklahoma. “We have never closed.”
Those in need of food, for any reason, are able to pick up every thirty days.
“We’re permanent,” Rosson said. “Even after other food drives are gone — we’re still here.”
Circumstances change. The Food and Resource Center doesn’t verify income. “My philosophy here is ‘if you show up, you’re hungry.’ We know there’s backstory. We’re not worried about that,” Rosson said. “If they drive up here, we’re going to give them food.”
Sometimes asking for help is hard, especially when there’s a sudden issue. Oklahomans will find no judgement at the Food and Resource Center.
Some things are slightly different in terms of safety-related changes in day to day operations. Previously, shoppers were given items based on the number of people in the household, with additional documentation needed for each person. Since customers are not currently able to go inside and ‘shop’ for items as before, staff and volunteers pre-fill shopping carts with available food, which they can then load up, often with very little, if any, wait time.
The Food and Resource Center does require some form of legible, unexpired identification for the person picking up. A state ID or driver’s license, passport, tribal identification card, consulate card, medical marijuana card, or prison release documents—any document issued by a county, state, federal or other governmental agency with a name, birth date and photo is acceptable. “We can take a photocopy, as long as it’s legible,” Rosson said.
Proof of address is also required for first-time shoppers – a utility bill, letter from the Social Security office, some form of mail with the name and address on it. After the initial intake, shoppers are given a card with their case number and their next available date to return.
Rosson said that there have been many calls to the Center asking about the availability of food. The Food and Resource Center averages about 1,500 families per month. Those numbers have come down a bit recently, Rosson said. January 2020 saw about 1,900 families served, where this past month saw only 1,300.
“Summer’s down a little bit every year because it’s just so hot,” Rosson said. Additional financial resources in response to pandemic relief may be a factor in that, however, it seems misinformation may be as well. Rosson said their program has continued serving new customers, in addition to returning shoppers, each month.
“If they’re new, we give them the paperwork and they fill it out first, then we put that into the computer and get them going,” Rosson said. Currently, one point of contact is located at the front door. After a person is checked in, they are given a pass to around to the second door, where they can pick up their items. When returned, the emptied cart is exchanged for a card with all the information needed for their next pick up. It really is that simple.
While there are no worries about there being a shortage of the perishable items and many staples which are delivered weekly, there have been some event cancellations that have left a large gap in the amount of canned food items available.
“We’re missing almost 9,000 pounds of canned goods that we would normally have right now,” Rosson said. That translates to approximately 7,500 meals. Other that that, the Center has been able to maintain their supply of other food products as well as cleaning supplies and protective gear for their staff.
The Food and Resource Center is open from 2 pm to 6 pm each Monday and from 10 am to 2 pm every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 801 Hailey Street in Ardmore. For more information, including updates about the sporadic availability of excess foods– which can range from fruit and vegetables to tea and salad dressing—follow their Facebook page at facebook.com/feedingsouthcentralok. If you have additional questions, call 580-798-2293 and leave a message if someone is not available.