On Thanksgiving morning, nearly 1,200 people line the sidewalk in front of The Coca-Cola Event Center in Oklahoma City in the chilly air for one reason only – to eat.
The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command hosts a city-wide Thanksgiving breakfast every year for those who have no families or no place to go on the holiday. Hundreds of volunteers help serve a traditional breakfast to those who attend, but The Salvation Army also provides groceries every day, every month to families who are in distress.
In 2010-11, The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma handed out 27,289 grocery orders to families who could not afford to buy food that month. Senior citizens and the disabled come to The Salvation Army on Fridays to receive sustaining food.
As you can imagine, that’s a lot of groceries that we hand out throughout the year. But, the holidays pose a unique challenge. How can a family working several jobs and still struggling to pay the bills afford a holiday meal like turkey, stuffing and all the fixings?
By partnerships with you and with local businesses. Honeysuckle White through Cargill Meats provided vouchers for 150 turkeys, The House FM is holding a series of events in Oklahoma City called Turkey 4 Tunes, Exclusive Wireless is collecting non-perishable food and citizens like you are collecting food for charity as well.
How do you know what to give though? The Salvation Army Charitable food drives can include food donations, household items and pet products. Knowing some of the common guidelines and restrictions of food pantries can help you make the most of your donation.
Ideas for Food Items:
· We respectively request donations of nutritious food that are shelf stable, no fresh or frozen, like:
* Canned or dried fruit and vegetables
* Canned tomotoes and pasta sauce
* Shelf stable fruit cups and juice boxes
* Protein sources like canned or dried beans, canned meats, peanut butter and nuts
* Whole grain food items like whole grain pasta, whole grain crackers, oatmeal, cereals, brown rice and other useful foods like canned stew, canned or box soups, dry milk and baby food.
Ideas for Household Goods
· We also accept basic household items. Frequently needed bathroom items include toilet paper, shampoo, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Other useful household items include dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and dish soap.
· Food pantries have different guidelines for what they will accept. Some only accept food, while others will also accept non food items. The Salvation Army will not accept over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbal supplements or recently expired food.
Tips for Shopping
· There are several ways to make your hard earned money go further. First, buy in quantity, but not in bulk. Warehouse stores have good values when you buy large quantities, but a 128 oz. can of diced tomatoes is too much for one family. Try buying a 10 pack of 14 oz. tomatoes instead. Second, buy nutritious foods. Snack foods don’t provide many nutrients; fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains are better choices. Finally, buy generic. For the most part, generic and store brands of foods and household goods have the same ingredients as name brands, but they are much cheaper – sometimes less than half the price.
To host your own food drive, call The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma at 405-246-1100.