Despite State’s Low Unemployment, Poverty and Hunger High in Rural Oklahoma

  • Joe Wertz

Ben Allen / KOSU

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation and the state’s tax coffers are relatively full.

But cupboards in rural parts of the state are increasingly bare.

KOSU’s Ben Allen reports on long lines for charity food deliveries in small-town Oklahoma:

They reach beyond the senior center, past the pharmacy, to the next corner, and the next, and the next. An older lady, Melba, was towards the front of the line. A line she never thought she would need.

“No, not when we was younger, I didn’t. But when you get older, it’s a lot different.”

Rural poverty in Oklahoma is about 3 percent higher than its urban poverty rate, Allen reports, citing figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma distributed about 30 million pounds of food in 2009. That number ballooned to 45 million last year, he reports.