Army feeds children during Oklahoma school closings
By: Cindy Fuller
As many school districts across Oklahoma closed due to a statewide teacher walkout, The Salvation Army was requested by many school boards, other agencies and nonprofits in several communities to ensure students did not go without meals.
One in four Oklahoma children are food insecure and rely on the Free and Reduced Breakfast and Lunch Program offered at most public schools.
Captain Ken Chapman, area commander for the Metro Tulsa Area Command, said, “While not taking political sides with the issues, we are responding to the needs of parents and children who need a safe haven and nutritious meals.
“Our resources are stretched, but God will provide! We are in this for the duration. If the families need us, we will be here.”
The walkout lasted nine days and ended April 12. Although teachers will receive a $6,100 raise, and some additional funding for education, the efforts are not over. Many schools sent delegations on April 13 to the Capitol and pledge to continue to do so to try to negotiate more for the students, classrooms and support staff.
Salvation Army locations in Bartlesville, Chickasha, Enid, Lawton, Muskogee, Oklahoma City, Shawnee, Stillwater and Tulsa assisted students while schools were closed.
The Chickasha Salvation Army partnered with First Baptist Church to provide a safe place to go during the day as well as providing breakfast, lunch and snacks. The Muskogee Salvation Army had sandwiches available for youngsters not in school. Stillwater shuttled students registered in its after-school program for lunch to ensure they received a meal during the day.
The Tulsa Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Clubs, with six locations across the Tulsa metropolitan area, were open to members and were accepting walk-in students as a safe place for area children and youth while schools were closed.
They partnered with Tulsa Public Schools to provide breakfast and lunch while The Salvation Army provided daily snacks and activities such as crafts, board games and basketball.
The Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Clubs in Lawton, Oklahoma City and Shawnee also opened their doors to students who needed a place to stay and nutritious meals and snacks.
Shawnee provided breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to current members of the Boys and Girls Club as well as non-members. Oklahoma City and Lawton provided alternative options for students during the day as well as meals and snacks.
In some areas, such as Bartlesville and Enid, The Salvation Army utilized Emergency Disaster Services resources. Canteens (mobile feeding units) provided lunch to students affected by the walkout at pre-determined sites.