Lawton Food Bank sees record numbers of needy

Lawton_While most are shopping for turkeys and cranberry sauce preparing for their Thanksgiving dinner, far too many can't - they simply can't afford it.  That's where the Lawton Food Bank comes in.  In fact, more people than usual have already started using the food bank.  They've been streaming in since the first of the month and the numbers aren't expected to drop until after the new year.

Lawton Food Bank director Jeri Mosiman says there are a couple of reasons for the spike in those needing their help.  One reason is Lawton simply doesn't have a lot of good paying jobs.  But, more than that, Lawtonians are dealing with unexpected expenses like medical bills.

Debbie Scoggins is a member of the second group.  She never thought she would be in need of outside help - until her health started to fail and she was no longer able to hold down a job.  That's when she found herself in line at the food bank.  "It gets you kind of depressed around the holidays," she says.  "And your sick, and your family wants to be around you, and you have your good days and your bad days - when I have a lot of pain."

Now, for Debbie, things at home are even worse - her husband, who provided their only source of income, has lost his job.  "I worked for a long time, then I had so many surgeries done and my husband has always been a provider and he's always worked," she says.  "But, since all this has come about ... we had to resort to a different thing...but hopefully things will get better."

And Debbie and her family are not alone.  Mosiman says the majority of the people she sees are down on their luck.  "They have to choose on a constant basis whether or not to pay for medicine, electricity or food," she says.  "They have their choice and everybody has have a place to live, have to have heat, you know.  Food is often what is missing so we are happy to help when we can."

Last year the Lawton Food Bank was able to help around 550 families.  But, this year, it's not even Thanksgiving yet and they've already exceeded half that number.  And Debbie is thankful - she can now concentrate on her health and celebrate the holiday, rather than worry about putting food on the table.

"It makes you feel good that there are places around that do care and do donate to them [food banks], says Debbie.  "And that's really a lot of help.  And you know it makes you feel good that other people care and everything."

Mosiman says the food bank receives the majority of its donations from the regional food bank - and that helps year round.  But, it's the local fundraisers that stock the shelves during the holidays.  She says they still need turkeys and hams though to dress the holiday tables.  So, if you would like to add to the holiday baskets, drop donations at 1405 SW 20th Street.

If you are in need of assistance from the Lawton Food Bank, you're welcome to drop by.  But, be sure to have your picture ID and social security card.  You'll need the identification of every member of your household as well as address verification