Upcoming Forum in OKC: Hunger in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma Watch will sponsor a free “Oklahoma Watch-Out” public forum in Oklahoma City on May 3 on the issue of hunger in the state and whether the problem is getting worse.

Featured guests will include Hunger Free Oklahoma Executive Director Chris Bernard; Leon Hill, Oklahoma City Public Schools executive director of operations services, and Katie Fitzgerald, CEO of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

The forum will be from 6 p.m to 7 p.m. at Kamp’s 1910 Café, located at 10 N.E. 10th St. Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze will moderate the discussion. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register online and come with questions.

Hunger Free Oklahoma recently released a study reporting that Oklahoma has some of the worst hunger and food-insecurity statistics in the nation. One in four Oklahoma children experiences hunger each year and more than 650,000 Oklahomans are food insecure, the study found. In addition, more than $400 million available each year to address hunger in Oklahoma through nutrition programs is being left on the table.

About the Panelists

Chris Bernard

Hunger Free Oklahoma Executive Director Chris Bernard works to affect hunger policies, programs, and legislative changes to benefit Oklahomans and their communities.  He most recently led programming for the Cook County Justice Advisory Council in Illinois, where he crafted legislative priorities, led government relations initiatives, and oversaw the distribution and management of a multimillion dollar grant portfolio. A native Oklahoman, Bernard spent 16 years working and studying in Austin and Chicago before returning home.

Katie Fitzgerald

Katie Fitzgerald has spent her career in the nonprofit sector, focusing on improving outcomes for vulnerable children, youth and families. Prior to joining the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, she served as president and CEO of Make-a-Wish Oklahoma based in Oklahoma City. Fitzgerald also served as executive director at the Center for Children and Families in Norman, where she led the largest expansion in operating and capital revenue in the agency’s history.

Earlier in her career, Katie served as director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at the University of Oklahoma’s Carl Albert Center and led the Oklahoma Afterschool Network at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.

Leon Hill

As executive director of operations services for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Leon Hill oversees school nutrition services, transportation services and district security programs. He has more than 30 years of experience as a teacher, school principal and district administrator.  He has worked primarily in high-poverty communities with students from diverse cultural backgrounds. His schools have been awarded the James Madison Schools of Excellence and the National School of Excellence.