Regional Food Bank plan follows property sale
A stunning vista is coming into view this year for Skyline Urban Ministry in south Oklahoma City.
Soon all Skyline’s programs will be housed at one location, with thousands more square feet of space, and with an additional role as a major Regional Food Bank center.
Plans and actions converging this year make possible the changes for the United Methodist-related charity that serves the at-risk population in the state’s capital city.
- On May 1, St. Anthony Hospital purchased the Eighth Street Church facility operated by Skyline.
"Historically, we had to divide our programs between two locations — some at the McKee Center, south of the Oklahoma River, and the rest at the Eighth Street Church," said Claudia Lovelace, Skyline’s executive director. "Logically, that’s not ideal."
The hospital, as SSM Health Care of Oklahoma Inc., bought the property on the northwest corner of Eighth and Lee Streets for $350,000, according to county assessor records.
- The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Skyline announced in late May a collaboration to establish a Food Resource Center at the McKee site, 500 S.E. 15th. Rev. Lovelace said the new client-choice center will be open extended hours five days a week.
The Regional Food Bank provides a network of programs with enough food, including perishables, to feed more than 90,000 hungry Oklahomans each week. The organization is working to create specialized facilities, designated "Food Resource Centers," to improve efficiency in distribution.
Cari Ogden, Food Bank vice president, explained, "We have worked with Skyline for years and recognize their client-choice food pantry as an excellent model.
"It was a natural fit, supporting their expansion into a Food Resource Center near the Capitol Hill area."
Lovelace described an urban "food desert" is where access to grocery stores is limited.
As part of the agreement, the Food Bank will provide specialized equipment, including coolers and freezers, a computer system, scales, and shelving, as well as operations and logistics assistance.
- A Skyline building fund will expand McKee Center by more than 6,000 square feet. The Eighth Street property sale, in-kind donations by the Food Bank, UM resources, and other monies support the expansion plan.
Dan Loeffler chairs the Skyline Board of Directors. As a good steward, the Board has long considered alternatives to the current programming and staff at two sites. "The Eighth Street Church certainly was designed in another era. We’ve done the best we could with that. [It] is an older building that has not always suited Skyline’s needs as well as we might like," Loeffler said.
The hospital is leasing the Eighth Street site to Skyline until the new construction is complete. Several historical items were reserved for Skyline, including the organ and pews, Loeffler said.
The expansion at McKee Center will allow for a significantly larger food pantry space and separate warehouse for storing bulk food. Separate intake and counseling rooms for clients and a dedicated space for the Skyline Eye Clinic are planned.
— Compiled by Holly McCray