In 2003, a little boy in Oklahoma City fainted in his school lunch line due to lack of food over the weekend. This event prompted the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to create the Food for Kids Backpack Program. NHS’s self-proclaimed “Cafeteria Lady,” Ruth Stell, decided to help feed children in Tahlequah by collecting nearly $1,000 for the Tahlequah backpack program.
“If you’ve ever visited the NHS cafeteria, you would remember Ruth,” said Mark McCroskey, VP of Operations. “She is a remarkable woman with an incredibly giving heart.”
The program provides chronically hungry children with backpacks filled with non-perishable, nutritious, kid-friendly, shelf-stable food to sustain them over weekends and school holidays. During the 2015-2016 school year, the Backpack Program served 18,816 elementary school students attending 512 schools across 53 central and western Oklahoma counties, providing more than 2 million meals for chronically hungry children.
“There are starving children all over the world,” said Stell, “and it’s good to work to feed them, but with seventeen percent of all Oklahoma children living in poverty, we need to feed our children right here at home too.”
Stell began taking donations, selling recipes and crocheting items for sell in the NHS cafeteria. Soon she had raised $900 to donate to the local backpack program.
“You should always give back. So many people are less fortunate than most of us, so we should help out if we can,” said Stell. “If I can fill one belly, then yay!”
Photo Caption: The NHS “Cafeteria Lady,” Ruth Stell, right, raised nearly $1,000 for the Tahlequah Backpack Program. Here she is seen donating the money to April Bardell, who oversees the backpack program for Tahlequah Public Schools.