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hunger

Students Faith Thomas, left, and A’Riyah Stepeny prepare bagels to give to students as part of a free breakfast program at Oklahoma Centennial Mid-High School in Oklahoma City Tuesday.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

Many students at Oklahoma Centennial Mid-High in northeast Oklahoma City often don’t eat breakfast. And when students are hungry, they don’t pay attention and their grades can suffer.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

For some low-income children in Oklahoma, summer does not mean vacation and playtime — It means being hungry. The lunch and breakfast these kids receive at school is no longer readily available, so they often go without — or they eat junk food. And while Oklahoma has summer food programs to combat this, there are roadblocks for many children.

Panelists at a May 3rd, 2017 Oklahoma Watch-Out forum on the state of "Hunger in Oklahoma."
Patrick Roberts / KGOU

Hunger and food insecurity are practically interchangeable terms used to describe the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. According to figures released by the United States Department of Agriculture, the prevalence of food insecurity in Oklahoma between 2014 and 2015, though declining… was nevertheless higher than the national average. 

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma / Facebook

Food pantries and shelters across the state are scrambling to meet demand for food and other supplies by the homeless, kids left in the lurch because they don't have access to free and discounted meals offered when schools are in session and other residents who are down on their luck.

Social service workers say supplies like meat and dairy are particularly in demand during the summer months — a period when donations to agencies tend to dip.

The Iron Gate soup kitchen and food pantry in downtown Tulsa, for example, fed a record 600-plus people Wednesday.

Oklahoma Policy Institute

Census Bureau data released in September show that one in six Oklahomans were a part of a family falling below the poverty line - $19,090 for a three-person household. The figures analyzed by the Oklahoma Policy Institute show 23.8 percent of Oklahoma children live in poverty, an increase of 1.7 percent over the last five years.