May 22 Workshop will focus on food insecurity in Oklahoma

Despite living in one of the richest countries in the world, about 15 percent of the population in the United States deals with food insecurity on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, one in four Oklahoma children do not have enough food to eat and are routinely hungry. To help shed light on this situation, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension and OSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture are presenting Hunger and Horticulture in the U.S. This informative workshop will be May 22 at the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center on the OSU campus, 12:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Mike Schnelle, OSU Cooperative Extension specialist, said the workshop will focus on a variety of topics designed to address this issue.

“There are more than 6 million households that need assistance from a food pantry one or more times per year. In the Oklahoma City Pubic Schools, more than 84 percent of children receive free or reduced cost school meals,” Schnelle said. “It will take people from all walks of life to solve this dilemma. This workshop is bringing together industry and university specialists who will focus on horticultural yields, as well as how fresh produce and dietary practices can improve the quality of life for our state’s residents.”

It is not simply a matter of not having enough healthy food to eat. Hunger issues in the U.S. also lead to associations with diabetes, depression, heart disease, obesity and pregnancy complications. Oklahoma currently ranks tenth in difficulty accessing affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.

The informative workshop will cover topics including youth hunger and what we can do about it, the role of the federal nutrition programs and local efforts in creating food access, hunger relief gardening, Plant a Row for the Hungry, how being overfed and undernourished contributes to the obesity epidemic, Oklahoma orchards, increasing access to healthy foods and a review of specific populations and their struggle with hunger.

“We are a nation ripe with knowledge on food production and we need to put this information to better use to better meet the needs of our population,” Schnelle said. “Because hunger affects all of society, either directly or indirectly, this workshop will be informative for anyone interested in this topic.”

Workshop registration is $30 by May 11. No late registrations or walk-ins can be accepted so early registration is encouraged. For additional information, please contact Stephanie Larimer at 405-744-5404 or visit