NORMAN — McFarlin Memorial United Methodist food pantry will host an open house from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 20.
“If you do the math, it is easy to understand why almost one in five households in Norman are struggling to buy food,” said Martie Buzzard, a volunteer for the open house. “Every week we help single moms, retirees helping adult children or raising grandchildren, OU students with young children, people from all walks of life whose mental or physical conditions prevent them from earning a sustainable income. A car accident, serious illness, job lay-off or cutbacks of a few hours a week can create extreme financial hardship and it can take years to recover.”
Last year, McFarlin Methodist Food Pantry volunteers handed out more than 50,000 pounds of food to 1,300 households and the need is growing.
“It is incorrect to assume that someone asking for food is lazy or unwilling to work, choosing to live on hand-outs and government assistance. Most of the people who come to the pantry do not qualify for assistance, and those who receive food stamps cannot make it through the month without help,” Buzzard said. “Someone coming out of prison seeking a new life is even more disadvantaged because they can rarely find affordable housing or jobs. This comprises a huge segment of our society — hard-working people who live on the edge of extreme poverty.”
The pantry, located in a small house north of the church in the 400 block of S. University Street, is open from 9 to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. To qualify, a person must have a photo I.D. with proof of residence in Norman or Noble and meet income guidelines set by the Regional Food Bank.
“We are serving close to 100 households a week, a 25 percent increase over this time last year,” said Buzzard.
On the second and fourth Thursday mornings, the pantry offers a “Recipe of the Week” program.
Recipes that use products from McFarlin food bags are cooked and sampled by all who come for food and utilities on that morning. Those who are interested can taste, help with preparation and serving, and sit in the kitchen area to talk about cooking. Packets of ingredients are available to take home and try.
The goal is to energize, inform and motivate food pantry patrons regarding the benefits of home-cooked meals that are nutritious, delicious and affordable.
For more information about the McFarlin Food Pantry, Recipe Program and Open House, call the church office at 321-3484.