Three Tulsans want every person to have healthy food.
McCarthy remembers one of the first times he saw need in Tulsa. In junior high, he visited homes on 56th Street North to help install running water.
“You just got an awakening that not everyone was living at the same level as you are,” he says.
Helping others has always been important to McCarthy, and for nearly 35 years he’s been doing so by fighting hunger as a staff member of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. McCarthy is the director of community initiatives and says one of his favorite programs is the Free Family Farmers’ Markets at Community Action Project Early Childhood Development Centers where families take home fresh produce, bakery items, recipes and nutritional information.
Thanks to Wetherill’s problem-solving skills, more than 37 uninsured patients are leaving doctors’ appointments with free, nutritious foods tailored to their health needs.
“I think the role of food is foundational for both disease prevention and management, and we don’t include it enough in the health care conversation,” says Wetherill, a Ph.D. in health promotion sciences.
In an effort to eliminate economic and geographic barriers keeping patients from nutritious foods, she led the launch of the Food Pharmacy, which began as a pilot program in July at OU Family Medicine. Food Pharmacy is a collaboration between the OU School of Community Medicine and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Patients with conditions like hypertension and diabetes receive a monthly box of items like beans, canned fish, dried fruit and anti-inflammatory spices along with helpful recipes.
“Hunger is everywhere,” says Blum, a Jenks High School senior. Through her work as a junior ambassador with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, she hopes to communicate one thing: “The food bank is here, and it can help.”
As junior ambassadors, Blum and 13 other high school students raise awareness, funds and food. Their biggest event, Battle of the Bands, provided more than 32,000 meals in 2015.
“Getting out in the community and seeing what people struggle with is important,” Blum says. “I think it really changes you as a person to know that there are people around you struggling, and you can change their lives.”