Path Home Shows 2010 Show Archive February 2010 Show 1009 Meridian Food Pantry

Meridian Food Pantry

Hunger in America does not look like the images we have grown accustomed to seeing in developing nations. In this country, we have never had a famine yet hunger is all too real. We take to the back roads of Oklahoma to meet a woman who has made it her life's mission to eliminate hunger in the heartland.
Meridian Food Pantry

Meridian Food Pantry

For more information visit these links:

Families Helping Families
Meridian Technology Center

Show Dates

Show 1009: Meridian Food Pantry

Air date: February 28, 2010



Rob:  Well, hunger in America does not look like the images we have unfortunately grown accustomed to seeing in developing nations.  In this country, we've never had a famine; yet, hunger is still all too real.

Rob:  In this week's cover story, our Courtenay DeHoff takes us to the back roads of Oklahoma to meet a woman who's made it her life's mission to eliminate hunger in the heartland.

Courtenay DeHoff:  For Carolyn Craven her days start early.  A school bus driver for Meridian Technology Center, she spends her mornings bringing students from rural Payne County into the Tech Center.

Carolyn Craven:  Thank you.

Courtenay:  Where she also works with Culinary Art students in the snack bar.  A job she enjoys, but serves as the means to a much greater end.

Carolyn:  Hello, how are you?

Courtenay:  Today, Carolyn is gathering up coats from Meridian's Culinary Arts class.  Culinary Art student, Emily Eller, says why the class chose to help Carolyn for their yearly community service project.

Emily Eller:  It's Families Helping Families and we decided to do this project.  She came in and, and spoke to our class about what she does to help the community and I don't know, I just really took it to heart.  I think we all did.  She made a big impact on us and so we decided that we would do what we could to donate clothing, and toys, and different things like that to help her and her efforts in helping the community.  It makes me feel different than any other project I've ever worked on; it just, it excites me to know that I'm not just, not just doing something to help myself, I'm actually reaching out and touching other lives.

Courtenay:  Donations Carolyn needs for her time away from work; after taking students home for the day, a new life begins.

Courtenay:  While her job at Meridian helps pay the bills, her true passion lies in helping people, over six hundred a week, right here at her home in Carney, Oklahoma.

Carolyn:  We are just families helping families.  There are no paid employees here; we're glad to say that.  And, we have fun at it and basically, we just help people.

Courtenay:  Helping people in a big way.  Carolyn and volunteers prepare a shopping experience right out of her garage for people that simply couldn't afford basic essentials any other way.

Carolyn:  Many of them are grandparents raising grandchildren, some of them are children that are raising, raising their siblings, elderly, disabled people that are out of a job.  Right now, a lot of people are out of a job; and it's, we have some that come in and you can tell it's really hard for them to come because they've never had to do this before.  From all walks of life, their need may not be, they may not come in every month and then we have those that need to come in every month.  We catch people that fall through the cracks.  We don't do this according to how much money you make; a lot of people come in here that are simply in between jobs.  Fifty percent of our clientele are low income; fifty percent aren't.  Here is a place that anyone can come, there's no one here to help the working person, and that's my heartbeat is helping that working person that just needs a little help.

Courtenay:  Carolyn and Families Helping Families helps people in rural Oklahoma areas, people that may simply have the wrong address, she says.

Carolyn:  Right in this area there are miles and miles of rural area that have the wrong address.  A lot of food banks, they can go into if they have the right zip code or the right address.  If I were doing this according to a zip code or the town you're from, anyone across the street couldn't come here.  That's what makes so many food pantries in different areas so vital.

Courtenay:  Even though the food pantry is out of Carolyn's home, she says it would not be possible without the hard work of volunteers like Phyllis Rodman.

Phyllis Rodman:  Wherever they need me; right now there's a box of eggs that need to be washed and I'm standing back a little because the water is so cold, but sometimes I help bag those, sack the groceries and certainly when all of the clients come we help hand them out and we administer to them in whatever ways that we can.  Help people that are in need.  A God calling for Carolyn, and she has just invited all of us to be a part of this ministry.

Courtenay:  A women's ministry that makes the food pantry possible and Carolyn says, sparked this passion for giving within her heart.

Carolyn:  I belong to the Oklahoma Women's Ministries and I, I love the fact that they claim me and they let me do this through them; but I had no idea, the fun that was outside of the church.  And, I've learned that giving is, has been the most enjoyable thing I have ever done.  And, people give back to me and that's one of the hardest things that I've learned here; we learned to give and know that for so many years we refused to take a donation and I went to church on Sunday and they preached on that and I found out that when I didn't take from those people, that I was robbing them of an opportunity for God to bless them.

Courtenay:  All the food and supplies in the pantry come from giving people.  Whether it's people donating their last pennies, school organizations, or large food distributorships, Carolyn says it all makes a big difference in her client's lives.  Clients like Curtis Morrison.

Curtis Morrison:  It just helps out with extra stuff like cleaning supplies and stuff that regular stuff we would just do without, it's just not necessary; and we make it, but we're on a fixed income.  When I first came here I was kinda, I need some help.  When you get treated like a person, you're a person coming in a going out; we had to make some repairs at home, had to, and it was an emergency; we didn't know our hot water heater was going to go out.  We weren't gonna really have a birthday party for one of my kids and they really don't understand, hey let's wait til next month to have your birthday and they knew and saved a birthday cake and so we had the little napkins and the plates, and the cake; everything that we wouldn't have got to have.

Courtenay:  For Carolyn, that is what it's truly about, giving people something that they shouldn't have to go without.  This Oklahoma woman who is a bus driver by morning...

Carolyn:  Everyone doing good?

Courtenay:  ...has truly become a hero by day for so many people.

Carolyn:  Well, if you don't know for sure, it's a good day huh?