Things Going on at Iron Gate and News About Hunger

We have alot of good news to report so please bear with us on the length of the post.

Iron Gate will serve soul food to the homeless and hungry Tuesday, Feb. 16, in recognition of Black History Month. The menu will include smothered chicken with rice, cracklin' cornbread, steamed cabbage and buttermilk pie.

In her nine years as cook for the soup kitchen, chef Debra Dixon has prepared 1,569,000 meals for Iron Gate. She has cooked special menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas and traditional Indian food for Native American Month. This is her first soul food menu.

In researching African American cuisine, she found the roots of soul food in American slavery. Often they created dishes from leftovers that their masters did not eat. They exchanged recipes verbally because slaves were prohibited from writing. Dixon, a black cook herself, says this is how soul food is still cooked—from memory and by taste. It's the way she often cooks, too, with recipes passed down in her family.

She and her soul food cooks, sisters from St. Luke Baptist Church, will begin cooking at 7 a.m. Tuesday. The meal will be served 8:30-10:30 a.m. by black celebrity servers including the Rev. John Vincent, Fellowship Christian Church; the Rev. Joseph Alsay, Trinity Episcopal Church; Ed Goodwin, Tulsa attorney; and E.L. Goodwin, Oklahoma Eagle publisher.

Osteopathic Founders Foundation. Iron Gate received a grant at the patron's party—a preview event of the Foundation's Winterset 2010. Other recipients are the Good Samaritan Health Services and Mental Health Association of Tulsa. This is the first major grant we have received form the Osteopathic Founders Foundation.

Tulsa Community Foundation. Today we received a grant to purchase food. This was part of the million dollar Tulsa Community Challenge announced in December. We are one of 35 local agencies benefitting from the successful challenge. Major donors to this grant were: Tulsa Community Foundation (Phil Lakin), AEP Foundation (Stuart Solomon), George Kaiser Family Foundation (George Kaiser, Amy Santee), Tulsa Area Untied Way (Mark Graham), Bank of Oklahoma (Stan Lybarger.)

Okla Center for Nonprofits. As you read in Tulsa World Feb. 4, 2010, (pg A-13), Iron Gate is one of eight finalists in the Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence Awards contest. This finalist award brings us $5,000. If we win the next leg, we'll win $7,500. If we win the whole thing, the prize is $10,000.

News about hunger in America

As reported in today's "USA Today,"

  • One in eight Americans—37 million people—received emergency food help last year. That's up 46% from 2005 (the last major survey.)
  • One if five children—14 million kids—received food from soup kitchens and food pantries. That's up from 9 million in 2005.

These stats are from a report from Feeding America, a network of 203 nationwide food pantries. "This is a crisis," said Feeding America President Vicki Escarra.
Iron Gate participated in that survey and conducted interviews on site last year. As horrifying as the numbers are, we agree with Cindy Stevens from the local Food Bank that our regional numbers (see "Hunger in America" chart below) do not reflect the real increase all of us have seen in this area.

And as reported in Feb 2, 2010 "Tulsa World," Oklahoma has become the fourth hungriest state. Up from No. 8. That's from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The city of Tulsa has the 21st highest rate among the largest 100 U.S. metropolitan areas. Oklahoma City has the 12th highest rate. A report from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that more than 20 percent of Tulsans surveyed didn't have enough money to buy needed food at times last year.

We at Iron Gate help in two ways:
Our soup kitchen – open every day of the year, and
Our food pantry—distributing emergency grocery bags every week. Our food pantry is a direct way of getting food into children's homes. When school is in session, children cannot come eat at our soup kitchen weekdays, which is open 8:30-10:30 a.m. This is another reason we began the Kids' Pantry last year, stocking it with more kid-friendly food (fruit cups, fruit juice, small cereal boxes, etc.)