OKLAHOMA CITY -- Food retailers here quickly mobilized to provide groceries and supplies to victims of the May 3 tornadoes that damaged or destroyed more than 10,000 homes near here and in Kansas and killed 46 people.
Oklahoma grocers who assisted included Albertson's, Baker's Supermarkets, Fleming Cos., H.E. Butt Grocery Co., IGA Superthrift and Pratt Foods, said Melanie Anthony, marketing director of the Oklahoma City Food Bank.
Among the items sent were lots of canned foods, including tuna, vegetables and fruit; juice boxes; bottled water; fruit punch; cereal; bread and rice; and paper products and hygiene items, said Anthony.
In Kansas, Dillon Stores and Food 4 Less sent food, and some Associated Grocers in Kansas City held a food drive, said Virginia White, executive director of the Kansas Food Bank Warehouse in Wichita. She added that Springer Co., Wichita, a trucking firm, hauled a lot of the goods, as did the grocery companies, without regard to whether the goods came from their own company or a competitor.
Both food banks are members of Second Harvest, Chicago, America's largest domestic hunger-relief agency.
Anthony, of the Oklahoma food bank, said that all the product that has been coming into the community is designated for disaster relief. Before donations arrived, she said, "we pulled a half million pounds of goods from our warehouse to aid those in need.
"Now the Food Bank is in need of donated items to rebuild our day-to-day supply -- primarily canned fruits, vegetables and meat. Any assistance in restocking our shelves so that we can continue to accommodate the charitable agencies that depend on us would be greatly appreciated," Anthony said.
She added that Baker's Supermarkets "let us park our trailers in the parking lots of two stores, to accept canned goods, paper products and even clothing, which we gave to the Red Cross."
Pratt's Supermarkets served as a drop site at all nine stores here and in the communities of Shawnee, Tecumseh, Holdenville, Norman and Moore, one of the hardest-hit locations. A Pratt's official said none of the stores was damaged.
A letter from Mike De La Garza, vice president for public affairs for H-E-B, San Antonio, to Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Oklahoma City Food Bank, added that "our thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of need."
Second Harvest has established a toll-free disaster relief hotline for the tornado/hurricane season. It is 800-344-8070, and provides information on how to make a donation.