Feed My Sheep Project ~ Catholic Charities renovates facilities to meet needs

Catholic Charities renovates facilities to meet needs
Published by: Catholic Charities


Last year, Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma served more than 70,000 people in need. Over the years, they have grown from operating a relatively humble food program into the largest provider of food to individuals in need in the entire state of Oklahoma. That growth has come because of the incredible commitment of their volunteers, donors, and employees. While they strive to feed the hungry, they also seek to offer neighbors in need with hope.

When COVID-19 put many people out of work last year, thousands of families found themselves on the doorstep of Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma. With extensive logistical capabilities, Catholic Charities was equipped for this unprecedented challenge. They shifted much of their resources to food distribution while keeping their other programs continuously open during the pandemic except for the dental clinic, which has now reopened. Catholic Charities continues to take a leadership role in providing necessities, including nutritious food for thousands of families each week. Before COVID-19, they were serving about 75-100 families a day in Tulsa through their Emergency Assistance Program. Since March of 2020, they have been delivering nutritious food, much of it fresh produce, for up to 400-600 families a day at the main campus in North Tulsa. To ensure safety during the pandemic, they convert-ed to a drive-through distribution with volunteers wearing masks. Additionally, through the Farmers to Families Food Program, they have distributed almost eight million pounds of fresh produce and dairy (delivered by 241 different semi-trailer loads) through 18 different non-facility-based parking lot food drops throughout Eastern Oklahoma. While reconfiguring their food distribution process during the pandemic to meet the demand of the community, they faced the glaring reality that they had outgrown their facilities. They were giving away as much food every week as they did for an entire year in 2009, the year they moved to their new campus, yet they were working within the same footprint and configuration. In order to more effectively bridge the supply of food and those who are without access in Eastern Oklahoma, Catholic Charities initiated the Feed My Sheep Project to completely ren-ovate their food distribution facility.

Feed My Sheep is intended to help them be more efficient and effective in addressing the needs of people in the community. Catholic Charities’ stated goal for the project is to work smarter, prevent waste, and increase capacity to meet ever-growing needs. The project includes a grocery store where families can shop for healthy and nutritious food. The new store will serve an estimated 200 families a day. Their warehouse will be updated with a larger cooler and freezer as well as increased storage space for shelf-stable food. They will add a mass production kitchen to their campus that will allow them to make take-home meals for families and prepare food for catering opportunities. The Feed My Sheep Project will also involve a new road with access to a loading dock for food trucks, the replacement of two old box trucks, and the addition of a second forklift and a maintenance fund. When the Feed My Sheep Project was initially approved by the Board of Governors, they had modest goals for the renovation. However, when the Catholic Charities team approached several potential supporters, they were advised to scale up the project so that the organization would be well equipped for future growth. Within just a few months, they had raised nearly $4 million from 19 different donors for the project. For the next six months, the main campus for Catholic Charities will be undergoing the Feed My Sheep ren-ovations. During the construction, a benefactor has graciously allowed them to use a warehouse near 61st and Mingo in Tulsa so that they can continue their food distribution program.“So many Tulsa area families depend on Catholic Charities to help put food on their tables. Our dynamic team of staff and volunteers continues to prove that through Christ’s strength and man and woman’s heartfelt passion with humility, we can make a difference in people’s lives,” said Jeff Stava, the chief operating officer of the Tulsa Community Foundation and member of Catholic Charities Board of Governors