AARP volunteers and staff along with representatives from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma recently joined Governor Mary Fallin at the State Capitol where she issued a proclamation declaring 2011 as Drive to End Hunger Year in Oklahoma.

Drive to End Hunger was created last year by AARP and AARP Foundation in an effort to raise awareness of senior hunger, according to Ben Johnson, AARP lead volunteer on hunger issues and a member of the Oklahoma Food Security Committee.

“Hunger among older Oklahomans is a real problem,” Johnson said. “AARP Oklahoma volunteers across the state are working on various projects at the local level to collect food, volunteer at food pantries and enroll more people in the Supplemental Food Nutrition Program. We appreciate Governor Fallin’s support of our efforts.”

“As a state, it’s important we join together to address the problem of senior hunger in Oklahoma,” said Governor Mary Fallin, R. “I commend AARP, AARP Foundation, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma for their efforts to raise awareness of the problem and to solicit support for this cause. Through the efforts of volunteer organizations and terrific events like the Drive to End Hunger Year, we will be able to provide needy Oklahoma seniors with the support and nutrition they need.”

Johnson encouraged all Oklahoman’s to join Drive to End Hunger efforts during AARP’s National Day of Service, Friday, September 9th. Volunteers from across the state will spend time working at local food pantries including at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. A Drive to End Hunger night is planned at the Tulsa Shock WNBA game in partnership with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma on September 11th.

To find out how to take part in Day of Service in your community, visit the www.aarp.org/ok or call the AARP Oklahoma office at 1-866-295-7277.

AARP has also put together a tool-kit on how to organize a food drive in your local community. That kit can also be downloaded at www.aarp.org/ok.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 600,000 Oklahomans were living in food insecure households, meaning that they lacked access to enough food to fully meet their basic need. In Oklahoma, 6.8% of seniors are food insecure which makes older Oklahomans 25% more likely to be food insecure than the national average.