By Tiffany Ditto
tiffany.ditto@ardmoreite.com
A group of area donors have committed to matching dollar for dollar monies donated to the Regional Food Bank’s Food for Kids Program which benefits Carter County schools.
The dollar for dollar matching will last until Sept. 30 as the Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma, Benvenuto’s Ristorante, David Gorham (the former headmaster of Casady School in Oklahoma City) and two anonymous donors have agreed to match all gifts given to the food bank up to $150,000.
“We’re really fortunate to have these donors,” said Cathy Nestlen, public relations and marketing manager at Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. “Because of our partnerships we’re able to provide one meal for one dollar. Since these donors are matching the funds, we will be able to provide twice as many meals.”
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is a nonprofit organization that benefits schools throughout Carter County with their  backpack and school pantry programs.
Through the backpack program  elementary aged kids receive a backpack full of kid-friendly, non-perishable and nutritious food on Friday to sustain them over the weekend and school holidays— when they otherwise may not eat. Last school year, 14 Carter County schools participated in the program benefiting 660 students.
 Because food scarcity is not just a problem for small children, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma also has programs for older kids, like the pantry program. The school pantry program, like the backpack program, provides food for kids to eat over the weekend and during holiday breaks from school. But what makes it unique, is that the older kids are able to go into the pantry and take as much food as they need, Nestlen said.
“Often they’re taking home food for themselves and siblings,” she said.
During the 2016-17 school year, the food pantry program fed nearly 5,465 students at 165 schools across the state. Carter county made up five of those schools, and helped feed 165 students.
“Food is the most essential school supply,” said Katie Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of the regional food bank in a statement.
To make a donations to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Food for Kids program visit foodforkids.us or call 405-600-3136.
“The need has not diminished over the years, it’s been steady,” Nestlen said. “We try to meet the need that’s there.”