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Brooks and Kooyman at high school graduation night in June 1983.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Scott Books wants to help the half a million Oklahomans who struggle with hunger every day. As a result, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma will receive 12,500 pounds of almonds from the nonprofit organization, GiveBack2God.

“There is a big difference between not hungry and well nourished,” said Brooks, who, along with friend Mike Kooyman, is a founding board member of the nonprofit organization.

Brooks and Kooyman grew up in an almond-growing community in Central California and worked together in the almond orchards during high school. The two were well aware of the nutritional value of the nutrient-rich snacks, which provide a good source of both vitamin E and protein. In January 2010, the two co-founded GiveBack2God in an effort to fill the nutritional void that exists for many families struggling with hunger. GiveBack2God provides individual servings of healthy, nutritious almonds from Kooyman’s almond orchard to food banks and disaster-relief organizations around the world.

“The Oklahoma City Thunder has done a lot for this community,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank.  “And now, because of Coach Brook’s philanthropic efforts, thousands of hungry children and seniors will receive the nourishment and protein they so desperately need.”

One in five children in Oklahoma struggles with hunger every day.  This summer, the almonds will be distributed to children twice a week through the Summer Feeding program, which provides free breakfast, lunch or both to children under the age of 18. In the fall, nearly 8,000 children will receive the almonds through the Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids program. This program provides chronically hungry children with backpacks filled with non-perishable, kid-friendly food to eat on weekends and school holidays.

Seniors are also at great risk for going hungry. Risk factors can include: lack of transportation, lack of support from friends or family, inability to cook or prepare meals for themselves, or other special needs. The Regional Food Bank delivers food each month to seniors living in Oklahoma City Housing Authority sites. The mobile pantry visits the centers toward the end of the month when residents are in the greatest need of assistance. More than 800 senior residents will also benefit from the almond donation.

For more information about GiveBack2God visit www.GiveBack2God.com, call 209.296.8928 or e-mail info@GiveBack2God.com. For more information on childhood hunger, visit www.regionalfoodbank.org or phone Lisa Perry at 405-600-3107.

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