By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Oklahoma City’s Other Options Friends Food Pantry is preparing for their 17th Annual Cookie’s Thanksgiving Day Delivery of holiday meals to individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
Cookie Arbuckle founded Other Options and Friends Food Pantry in 1988. Her daughter, Mary Arbuckle, now serves as the organization’s executive director.
A crew of dedicated volunteers will help to provide over 750 free dinners throughout the Oklahoma City metro area and Norman on Thursday, November 24.
New this year, meal preparations will take place at the Sunnyside Diner, 916 NW 6th Street, and at the Earth Elements Entrepreneur’s Kitchen, 1235 SW 2, located just south of Farmers Public Market in Oklahoma City
Other Options will be making an additional 250 meals to feed those who have nowhere else to go. Those meals will be served on Thanksgiving Day in the afternoon at Sunnyside Diner.
The Friends Food Pantry Thanksgiving Delivery is a tradition started by Oklahoma City activist, Scotty Irani, and has been carried on by restaurateur Robert Painter for the past eleven years.
According to The Oklahoman reporter Dave Cathey, this year much of the responsibility of the event has been passed on to Aly Branstetter, co-owner of Hillbilly’s and Sunnyside Diner who has joined forces with Other Options and the Spero Project to help with the holiday project.5
“We believe that together we can make a difference,” Mary said, “Tuesday and Wednesday, Thanksgiving week, we do the prep and cooking. On Thursday we package and box all the meals to be delivered.
Prep will start on Tuesday Nov. 22, from 3 – 8p.m. Wednesday hours are 4 – 8 p.m., and Thursday from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m.
On Thanksgiving Day those who want to help box meals should plan on arriving by 7 a.m. Volunteers who will only be making deliveries should arrive by 8:30 a.m.
Arbuckle said, “Last year we had over 210 stops and this year we have around the same.”
The Friends Food Pantry is the only free food source in the 405 and 580 area codes for the HIV population in Oklahoma.
The Friends Food Pantry is the primary program at Other Options. It provides nutrient dense food, nutrition formula, and toiletries to over 1,064 adults and children weekly.
Other Options’ Home Delivery Program provides deliveries to those individuals unable to shop at the Friends Food Pantry because their illness keeps them homebound.
The organization also participates in the HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS) Program, which was created by HUD to address the needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
Other Options also provides prevention education to the metro community.
This year’s Thanksgiving Delivery is expected to cost approximately $5,000. Donations can be made online at otheroptionsokc.org or checks can also be mailed to 3636 NW 51st St, Oklahoma City, OK 73112.
Donated turkeys or hams can be dropped at Other Options, 3636 NW 51st Street; Sunnyside Diner, 916 NW 6th Street; or at The Sushi Bar, 6432 W Memorial Road.
To volunteer for the Cookie’s Thanksgiving Dinner Delivery you can sign up online, or call 405-605-8020. For more information call Robert Painter at 405-590-2133 or Mary Arbuckle at 405-760-1406.