Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center
FAPC advisory board tours food bank
By Mandy Gross, FAPC Communications Services Manager
(Stillwater, Okla. – Dec. 6, 2016) One in six adults and one in four children struggle with hunger in Oklahoma. The advisory board of Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center saw firsthand how the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is solving hunger in the state.
FAPC’s Industry Advisory Committee recently met at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to discuss food and agricultural issues and take a tour of the Oklahoma City facility.
“The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma has an amazing facility, and FAPC’s advisory board is appreciative of the food bank’s willingness to host the committee for its fall meeting and learn more about the programs offered to combat hunger in our state,” said John Patrick Lopez, chief operating officer of Lopez Foods and Industry Advisory Committee chair. “I’m pleased with the outcome of the board meeting and enjoy working with the other committee members and center faculty and staff.”
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, a member of the Feeding America network of Food Banks, is the largest private domestic hunger-relief charity in the state, providing enough food to feed more than 126,000 hungry Oklahomans every week, 37 percent of which are children.
In fiscal year 2016, the Regional Food Bank distributed 52 million pounds of food through a network of 1,300 charitable feeding programs and schools throughout 53 central and western Oklahoma counties.
FAPC has fostered a close relationship with the Regional Food Bank throughout the years and has provided assistance in developing food safety plans for the facility. In addition, the Food Bank has worked with Lopez Foods in utilizing Canadian bacon produced at the Oklahoma City plant.
“We would have never achieved USDA approval without the advisory help from FAPC,” said Steve Kullberg, vice president of operations for the Regional Food Bank. “The collaboration has been extremely beneficial.”
During the Nov. 3 meeting, FAPC Industry Advisory Committee members met with faculty and staff and heard updates about marketing the center, upcoming events, the food safety option available through the OSU Department of Animal Sciences’ food science degree and a proposed food safety certification program.
“The committee members always look forward to hearing updates of how FAPC is meeting the needs of food and agricultural businesses,” Lopez said. “FAPC is essential to what we do. It’s important to understand how FAPC truly helps Oklahoma businesses.”
More than 600 companies make up Oklahoma’s food-processing industry, which accounts for almost 2 percent of the state's employment base, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Small companies make up the majority of Oklahoma's diversified food industry.
In the last 5-year economic impact study on 75 Oklahoma food businesses, FAPC was credited with generating more than $18 million in annual sales revenue. These companies were located in communities across Oklahoma from Guymon to Tahlequah to Ponca City to Ardmore, generating more than 350 jobs in these communities.
“FAPC is fortunate to have an advisory board that is invested in the future of the center,” said Roy Escoubas, FAPC director. “The committee members understand the importance of FAPC and are continuously looking for ways the center can grow and better serve the food and agricultural industries.”
Members of the committee are appointed by the speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, the Senate president pro tempore and the vice president of agricultural programs for OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, of which FAPC is a part.
In addition to Lopez, other members of the committee include Luis; Edward Clements, Clements Foods of Oklahoma City; Erica Hering, Ralph’s Packing Co. of Perkins; Scott Dvorak, Dvorak Farms of Perry; Joe Ford, Shawnee Milling Co. of Shawnee; John Griffin, Griffin Foods of Muskogee; David Howard, Unitherm Food Systems of Bristow; Virgil Jurgensmeyer, J-M Farms of Miami; Rodger Kerr, Southwest Technology Center of Altus; Tommy Kramer, Durant Industrial Authority of Durant; Max McDermott from deVine Water Co. in Jet; David McLaughlin, retired from AdvancePierre Foods of Oklahoma City; Philip Payment, Homeland Acquisition Corp. of Oklahoma City; Paul Schatte, Head Country Food Inc. of Ponca City; Mark Vaughan, Fresh Avenue Partners of Oklahoma City; and ex-officio Tom Coon, OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
The committee meets twice a year, usually in June and November. The June meeting is held at FAPC, while the November meeting is held off-site at the discretion of the committee.
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Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 25,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 260,000 students who have been serving Oklahoma and the world for 125 years.