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Mobile pantry for veterans coming soon to Claremore

Claremore Daily Progress - 5/12/2017

May 12--The second annual mobile pantry for veterans will be in Claremore at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30 distributing food to veterans at the Veterans of Foreign Wars parking lot located at 1717 W. Dupont St.

The Rogers County Chapter 44 Disabled American Veterans -- in conjunction with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma -- will be distributing food consisting of canned food items and fresh produce to veterans regardless of age, income or family status.

Veterans in Rogers County can go to the DAV location on 801 W. Dupont to request a pantry ticket on or before May 25. Tickets are restricted to one ticket per household and must be present on May 30 to receive the pantry food items.

Twelve pallets of food will be delivered on distribution day for veterans to conveniently drive-through to receive an efficient amount of food after presenting their ticket.

Military veteran Steve Lehto, with the food bank, said he realized after serving veterans in Tulsa that the program should be expanded to veterans in rural Oklahoma areas as well.

Currently, the only two rural locations where the program expanded are in Poteau and Claremore.

"There are a lot of veteran support programs in Tulsa, but what I have found is not many exist in rural areas," Lehto said.

The general population is measured into three groups, he said, which include children, seniors and veterans. Based on that and his research, he learned that one in four children, one in six seniors, and one in five veterans are categorically food insecure.

Lehto formed his own consensus locally to see how many Veterans have food needs.

As board president of the Coffee Bunker in Tulsa and a mentor for veterans involved in Tulsa County Veteran's Court, Lehto discovered a huge need between the two.

Additionally, because of his responsibility in Tulsa with the food bank, Lehto coordinates the veterans outreach with Danny Oliver, adjutant for the Oklahoma DAV utilizing two rural locations.

The Coffee Bunker serves hot meals three days a week serving veteran visits between 15,000 and 18,000, with an increase of 3,000 visits last year.

"That is when we realized there is definitely a huge need there."

Last year the food pantry distributed to 60 veterans throughout Rogers County.

Approximately 20 percent of all veterans are in the court system in Oklahoma, he said, who were mostly driven to crime as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) causing them to suffer financially, effecting their ability to nutrition.

Hunger among elderly veterans is under-reported according to "Feed Our Vets" organization since most do not seek assistance or deny they need assistance.

"The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is pleased to, in some way, address with honor what veterans of our country have done for us," he said.

For more information, please contact DAV member Tommy Sellers at (918) 813-9559.

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(c)2017 the Claremore Daily Progress (Claremore, Okla.)

Visit the Claremore Daily Progress (Claremore, Okla.) at claremoreprogress.com

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