Providing help with dignity

When Megann Johnson and her husband first began driving around to pick up donations during the annual food drive for Loaves & Fishes of NW Oklahoma, she was struck by just how much the organization was collecting.

Great Plains Insurance

“How are there that many people in Enid who need food?” she thought. “There must be children in these homes, too.”

Then, Johnson asked herself a question about her own home: “How can my family help?”

A greater commitment

That was six years ago—and ever since, she has continued to increase her involvement with Loaves & Fishes, a “client-choice” food pantry where clients shop once a month as if they were at a grocery store. Johnson, the co-founder of Great Plains Insurance in Enid, recently became a board member in addition to her other work with the organization, which includes regular support of the annual fundraiser and food drive.

This is about more than providing food to those who may not know where their next meal is coming from. It’s about doing so while adding dignity to their lives.

Megann Johnson, co-founder of Great Plains Insurance

“This is about more than providing food to those who may not know where their next meal is coming from,” she said. “It’s about doing so while adding dignity to their lives—and helping to provide helpful information on nutrition and food choices.”

They keep volunteering fun! Pictured here: Loaves & Fishes Executive Director, Lydia Kelley, Owner of Great Plains Insurance and Loaves & Fishes board member, Megann Johnson and Loaves & Fishes Director of Operations, Katie Long.

Support for thousands of households

Loaves & Fishes serves people from all walks of life, according to Executive Director Lydia Kelley. “We serve clients who work full- or part-time but still can’t make ends meet. People who are disabled or on fixed incomes. Families that have been hit with a sudden job loss or an unexpected death. The need is wide-ranging,” she said.

In 2019, the organization, which is funded entirely by donations and grants, provided assistance to nearly 2,200 households, Kelley added. Loaves & Fishes partners with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, local Walmart stores and the commissary at Vance Air Force Base to procure food at little or no cost, and also receives commodities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A birthday tradition

Donations can come from unexpected sources, too, like Johnson’s 5-year-old son, Charlie. For a couple of years now, he has asked friends to bring nonperishable food to his birthday parties instead of presents. This year, he donated 120 pounds of food—easily meeting his goal of giving an amount at least equivalent to his body weight.

“This is just what my boys expect for their birthdays now,” Johnson said. “They ask friends and family to bring food for Loaves & Fishes, because they understand that there are lots of people who don’t have the luxury of a well-stocked refrigerator, freezer and pantry.”

Each birthday, Johnson’s sons ask friends and family to gift them nonperishable food items, instead of toys, to donate to Loaves & Fishes.

A 2020 Make More Happen Award will help those people, too. The honor comes with a donation of up to $10,000 from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance to Loaves & Fishes on behalf of Great Plains Insurance. That’s enough to provide nearly 300 families with high-quality groceries including fresh produce and lean meats, as well as household and hygiene items.

“Megann, her family, and Great Plains Insurance have been wonderful advocates for Loaves & Fishes,” Kelley said. “We’re lucky to have such a strong community leader and business owner devoting her time, resources, and talents to help the people and families of Enid.”

Share this story on social media to help the nonprofit win $10,000. Learn more about these Make More Happen award winners here:

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Mimi

Especially during corona chaos I think it’s important to keep paying it forward!

Betty Borelli

GREAT IDEA!

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