It would probably surprise most of us to know how many of the people that we encounter every day struggle with food insecurity. Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the U.S., and 1 out of every 4 children in Oklahoma faces hunger.
A big misconception about food insecurity is that it only affects the homeless, the jobless, or the uneducated.
This video from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s “Fighting Hunger…Feeding Hope” campaign follows Tori, a single mom with a full-time job who partially raised her daughter out of her car while she put herself through school. Tori did everything right, but it still wasn’t enough. She still couldn’t provide for her daughter, and she isn’t alone.
Thousands of children in the Oklahoma City Metro area alone don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Which is why organizations like the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma do everything in their power to provide consistent access to nutritious food. But how do they pay for it all? Who buys the food that feeds these families? Who organizes and distributes it? Oklahomans.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the RFBO relies on community support to fund and power programs like the one that Tori used to feed herself and her daughter, Journee. Awareness for these programs is raised through multimedia ad campaigns, like this one, that share the stories of those whose lives have been made significantly better as a result of this organization and its volunteers. Hearing first-hand accounts of struggle and hardship help make hunger relatable to those with the power to donate time, money, and resources.
But how do ad campaigns convey the struggle of real Oklahomans?
This particular video begins with a muted color palette, low lighting, quiet background music, and a clear voiceover from a woman telling the viewer how hard it is to ask for help. We see a woman who we can assume is the narrator, and then the title card tells us that we will be hearing her story.
In the next scene, the viewer is shown text that indicates a flashback to 10 years previous. We see the same woman driving, with pillows and blankets in the back seat of her car. The colors are still very muted and the music is still slow, but now there are lyrics, and we hear Tori begin to tell her story.
She is immediately painted as a sympathetic character who is being interviewed in a documentary format. She describes the big conflict in her life: working as hard as she can to support herself and her daughter, but falling short of being able to feed, house, and provide for them both. She reminisces on the hard times, but also on the kindness of her neighbors who did what they were able to make things easier for her.
We are introduced to Monique, Tori’s advisor at Rose State University, who witnessed her struggle and helped connect Tori with resources who could help her. We also meet Lynda, the Director of the Bethel Foundation, who saw the change in Tori when she realized her struggles were coming to an end. We also meet Journee through video clips of her interacting with her mom, sorting, preparing, and eating the food provided by the Bethel Foundation.
Hearing Tori talk about the Bethel Foundation and seeing her interact with the volunteers there, the viewer understands exactly how much of an impact this program had on her. The excitement in her voice is evident as she remembers being able to tell her daughter “we got food now!”
As the video winds down, the viewer is left with a sense of contentment knowing that Tori and Journee aren’t struggling to eat anymore. Even though text at the end of the video reminds us that, like many Oklahomans, their struggle will continue because having a job doesn’t mean earning a living wage, the viewer understands that, because of programs like the Bethel Foundation and the RFBO, food doesn’t have to be part of that struggle.
How did this affect me?
I personally loved this video the first time I saw it, because it made hunger so relatable. Hearing her story and the way it was presented brought me back into my own memories of struggle and hunger and wondering how I was going to make it. A few years ago I was a struggling college student working 2 jobs, attending classes full-time, and participating in extra-curriculars. I was paying for out-of-state tuition largely on my own, living with 2 roommates, and I was rejected for food stamps because I had the flu the week before I applied, called out of work for the first time in 3 years, and as a result my paystub showed too few hours to qualify for assistance. I was told to work more and try applying again in 6 months. Thankfully, I was able to reach out to my family for assistance until I could get things sorted out, but I knew I was one of the lucky ones. Not everyone has family to fall back on.
This video was the catalyst for me to begin using my spare time to give back. I began volunteering at the RFBO in August 2019 and have spent at least one Saturday a month since then packing food for programs like Food For Kids and Food for Seniors. I LOVE being involved in my local community and hearing stories like Tori’s that really show what a difference a few hours of volunteer work can make.