30 Apr Fighting Hunger in Tulsa: A Personal Reflection
Sam Extance, Mother Road Market Event Coordinator
As a child, I was food insecure. This is not a fact widely known about me because I don’t often share this information with others. Last year, while working with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma on the kickoff to Restaurant Week at Mother Road Market, I opened up about it to Greg Raskin, Communications Manager of the food bank, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for several years when coordinating events benefiting the food bank.
I agreed to an interview with Greg to talk about my family’s experience. If you’d like to know more about my story, you can read it here in their 2019 Annual Report.
Speaking about my food insecurity in such a public way is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done, but I felt it was important in order to give hope to others that may find themselves in the same situation that my family did years ago. There are resources to help you, and there are people who are rooting for you.
Today, many individuals and families in our community may be facing food insecurity in light of unemployment, layoffs, or furloughs as a result of COVID-19. We are living in a time of great uncertainty, but what remains certain is kindness and compassion.
Tulsans, organizations, and businesses are all coming together to help those most in need. It is times like these that I am grateful and proud to work for LTFF.
Even before this crisis, leadership at LTFF and Mother Road Market was thoughtful about food insecurity in our workforce. We have a fridge stocked with food so that no employee is hungry and for Thanksgiving every employee went home with a turkey, pie, and fixings for a meal for their family. Together with the Mother Road Market merchants, we fought food insecurity by donating leftover food to Iron Gate weekly and by donating 10% of profits on a busy Friday to benefit the food bank to kick off Restaurant Week.
When our doors closed to the public for the safety of others and to help flatten the curve in Tulsa, our Mother Road Market family came together again to donate all of perishable food to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
LTFF worked swiftly in partnership with the Oklahoma Restaurant Association to then establish a Tulsa Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. LTFF has pledged $100,000 as a matching challenge that will kickstart the relief fund managed by the ORA’s Foundation to support Tulsans in the food and beverage industry who are unable to work as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. Funds will be dispersed as $1,000 grants to individuals in the industry who can spend the funds on their most pressing needs.
What makes me proud is that instead of only worrying about the bottom line, LTFF was focused doing what it could for its employees at all levels. What gives me hope is best summed up by Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
I know from personal experience these efforts have a tremendous impact, not only on getting your next meal and not being hungry but also for feeling seen, valued, and supported.
Stay safe, stay hopeful.