Lawton_More Lawton-area residents are going hungry with budgets that won't stretch far enough to pay higher grocery prices. Since January the United Way agency has fed nearly 21,000 people, up more than 5,000 from last year. Executive Director Jeri Mosiman says 100% of her Lawton Food Bank clients have to choose between buying food and other basics such as rent, medicine and utilities - and the basics are what the food bank needs.
Mosiman notes that right now the food bank food shelves are in pretty good shape. Yet the shelves that hold toothpaste, soap and other hygiene items are sparse. Just a couple of bars of soap and no toilet tissue were visible on Tuesday. Mosiman said, "A lot of our clientele-they don't even have toilet paper so we give it out a roll at a time because that's all we can afford to do." And those things aren't luxuries to many clients trying to get jobs. "You can drive around Lawton and see a lot of help wanted signs but if you can't afford a decent shower and some shampoo--things that we take for granted-it just makes it even more difficult."
Most of those visiting the food bank make less than $10,000 a year. Mosiman stated, "They are having to choose between buying shoes that fit their children because they had the nerve to grove over the summer, as opposed to food for their stomachs." Things will get worse as those parents with school-age children have to prepare them for back to school. "Back to school clothes, back to school supplies--those are the things that are very expensive."
The Lawton Food Bank also accepts donations of school supplies such as backpacks and pencils. Donations of personal items including toothpaste and toothbrushes, shampoo and more also can be dropped off with food items. The hours are weekdays 9 am till 4 pm at the Lawton Food Bank, 1405 S.W. 20th in Lawton.