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TSET Board of Directors Approves Grants to Address Food Insecurity

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 27, 2020) – The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Board of Directors on Thursday approved funding for seven grants to address food insecurity and increase Oklahomans access to healthy and nutritious food.

“Many Oklahomans were already struggling with food insecurity and access to nutritious food even before the pandemic,” said TSET Board of Directors Chair Bruce Benjamin, Ph.D. “Good nutrition is vital to good health. Food insecurity has been linked to poor health outcomes, especially for children and seniors. Access to healthy food is essential to managing conditions like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure and avoiding complications from COVID-19."

The board allocated $1 million in Thursday’s action to support projects that enhance food access and distribution systems in Oklahoma and other programs that will increase access to nutritious foods. The grants will be funded for one year.

Hunger Free Oklahoma will receive the largest allocation, $408,505, to expand the Double Up Oklahoma (DUO) program in up to 11 grocery stores in nine counties in rural Oklahoma. The program provides vouchers to Oklahomans using the Supplemental Nutritional Assistant Program (SNAP) and will help these SNAP participants buy even more fruits and vegetables. For every dollar spent on fruits and vegetables, the participants earn vouchers that can be used to buy more produce. The Double Up produce voucher system is currently in use at more than 12 farmers markets across the state. The program will work with grocery stores in Delaware, Garfield, Jackson, Kay, Kiowa, Marshall, Okfuskee, Seminole and Washington counties.

Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee will receive $250,000 for work in Pottawatomie, Seminole and Hughes counties. Gateway will develop a mobile food market to alleviate immediate hunger needs and improve access to healthy and nutritious food in high-need areas. Gateway will also work with area stakeholders to increase awareness of food insecurity and nutrition.

Other grants awarded were $36,072 to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa County; $40,395 to the Harper County Development Authority; $96,544 to Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma; $117,634 to RSVP Enid; and $50,850 to Urban Strategies, Inc. in Tulsa.

“These grants not only provide immediate relief to increased need for food during the COVID pandemic, they also support innovative partnerships that seek increase the availability of healthy foods,” said Julie Bisbee, TSET executive director. “Oklahoma continues to lag behind most states in the number of residents who are getting enough fruits and vegetables. Increasing availability and engaging communities in that effort is key to supporting health in our state.”

Food insecurity, already a problem in Oklahoma, has worsened since the coronavirus pandemic began. According to Feeding America, 1 in 7 people and 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger in Oklahoma.

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working toward shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. Learn more at tset.ok.gov.                            

TSET –  Better Lives Through Better Health