Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release:
February 8, 2007
Senator Andrew Rice
Bill Advanced to Create the Oklahoma Task
Force on Hunger
Oklahoma can no longer afford to ignore the growing
crisis of hunger within its borders according to State Senate Andrew
Rice, author of SB 499, which would create the Oklahoma Taskforce
“We can’t ignore this problem any longer. We rank near
the bottom five in the country for hunger,” said Rice, D-Oklahoma
City. “I don’t think the general public realizes what
a hunger problem we have - and I would put myself in that group
until recently. For instance, we have an issue in Oklahoma known
as “food insecure” which means there are people that
get three meals a day, but they’re not nutritious or filling
and therefore not meeting the medical benchmarks of being sufficient.
This needs to be addressed.”
According to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, half a million
Oklahomans are at risk of going to bed hungry, including one in
five children, and the numbers are increasing at a disturbing rate.
“Most of these people have jobs, but simply don’t make
enough to pay all the bills so they are often forced to choose between
buying food or paying utilities and other bills,” said Rice.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma noted that 42 percent must choose
between utilities or food; 33 percent must choose to pay rent or
mortgage or buy food; 33 percent must choose to buy medicine or
food; 41 percent of clients report that one or more household members
are in poor health; and 55 percent of clients have unpaid medical
or hospital bills.
Rice explained that hunger can have serious consequences down the
line for young children.
“It has a detrimental effect on children’s developmental
processes. They’re not able to learn well in schools. They
often develop learning disabilities and other developmental disabilities
because they’re not, in those really key years from birth
to six or seven years old, given the nutrition they need,”
said Rice. “So it’s imperative that we find a solution,
not only for our older citizens but for our youth and their futures.”
The taskforce will consist of 15 members including the Secretary
of Health, the Department of Human Services Director, the Commissioner
of Health, the Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Services, the Director of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and
the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The remaining members
will be appointed by the Governor, President Pro Tempore of the
Senate and the Speaker of the House and will be from such organizations
as the Regional Food Bank and other private entities.
“What we want to do is to try to get a lot of the different
players, both private & public, who are already working with
this issue together in a taskforce to share what works, what doesn’t,
what needs to be done, where they can join forces, where they can
save money, and where they can be more efficient,” said Rice.
A report of findings and recommendations must be submitted by December
For more information contact:
Senator Rice's Office - (405) 521-5610