Bill increasing food security passes House unanimously

Staff Writer

A bill aimed at alleviating childhood hunger passed Tuesday out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 95 to 0.

House Bill 1875 by state Reps. Eric Proctor and Jason Dunnington permits school districts to donate unused or unopened food to an on-campus nonprofit organization through an authorized representative or designee who is directly affiliated with the school as a teacher, counselor or PTA member. The food may be received, stored and redistributed at the school at any time, and school employees may assist in preparing and distributing the food as volunteers for the nonprofit organization.

“One in four Oklahoma children struggle with food insecurity,” said Proctor, D-Tulsa. “House Bill 1875 is a compassionate measure that will help to achieve the goal of no child going to bed hungry in our state. Hunger is not a Democratic or Republican issue, and I was happy to see the vote pass unanimously.”

The legislation exempts from civil and criminal liability school districts and nonprofit organizations who receive a good-faith donation of food that is fit for human consumption at the time of the donation.

Proctor and Dunnington have partnered with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma in Tulsa to ensure as few students as possible go home hungry and without food.

“The Oklahoma Food Banks are pleased to see HB 1875 moving forward through the legislative process with bipartisan support,” said Effie Craven with the Regional Food Bank. “With one in four Oklahoma children living in households that struggle to put enough food on the table, and more than 421,000 children in the state receiving free and reduced price lunch, new approaches to limiting food waste in schools can help ensure that no child goes without enough to eat.”

“House Bill 1875 will allow schools to be stronger community partners by enabling them to use leftover food to feed hungry children, help stock a school pantry, or supplement the food in backpack programs,” said Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City. “At my children’s school, many students leave food on their trays for various reasons after breakfast or lunch. This bill is a common sense way to lessen food waste and hunger.”

The legislation now moves to the state Senate.