Tulsa County CARES provides $3.2 million for food pantries through holidays

Tulsa County Commissioners approved an additional $3.2 million for nonprofit food providers Monday to ensure stocked pantries for the holidays.

The requested funding amount came from an area food summit earlier this month that included Tulsa County and nonprofit leaders at Tulsa Area United Way offices. The summit was the first of its kind in the area.

Summit attendees were encouraged to summarize the area’s food needs and work together to leverage bulk purchasing. Summit invitees included Catholic Charities, Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, Hunger Free Oklahoma, Iron Gate Tulsa, Meals on Wheels, Owasso Community Services, Sand Springs Community Services and others.

“As the largest provider of food to people in need in the state of Oklahoma, Catholic Charities is counted on by those in need to serve with love,” said Dcn. Kevin Sartorius, CEO of Catholic Charities of Tulsa. “During the COVID pandemic we have seen the number of families coming to our centers in Tulsa and Broken Arrow increase by 400%. We are now serving 6,500 families per month in Tulsa County, more than 30,000 souls.  Every month we are providing more than 400,000 meals right here in Tulsa.

“We are very thankful to have the opportunity to work with Tulsa County and we know that the Tulsa Cares grant we have received will benefit families needing assistance during this difficult time.”

Food pantries are the single highest referral from Eastern Oklahoma 211 since March with more than 17,300 from the region calling for help related to food, according to reports presented at the summit. The second highest referral, with almost 1,200, is to food stamps.

Tulsa County CARES previously provided $1.2 million to area food pantries. Including Monday’s approval, Tulsa County pantries have received $4.4 million.