The purpose of Other Options, Inc. is to provide food, resources, services, and education to at-risk individuals and families with a focus on those affected by HIV and AIDS.
The primary program at Other Options is the Friends Food Pantry which provides nutrient-dense food, nutrition formula, and toiletries to over 1,200 adults and children able to shop monthly. A delivery program for homebound and bedfast individuals/families that provides food baskets and easy to prepare meals is also in place at Other Options.
The Founding Board Members of Other Options working in the health care community in the early 1980s saw the need to educate and inform those who were affected by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), as well as health professionals and government agencies. That need became the foundation for Other Options. Our charter and non-profit status were completed in 1989 in time to produce the AIDS for HIV/AIDS handbook requested by The Governor’s Task Force on AIDS. We have been active in the HIV and AIDS community since that time.
Collaborating with other HIV/AIDS Services and Community Based Organizations state-wide, Other Options is committed to providing quality care to the men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS as well as Prevention Education to the affected community.
From the Director’s Desk:
HIV and AIDS have been around for more than 40 years and has affected people I love for almost as long. I have spent the past decade dedicating my career to improving access and services for both treatment and prevention of this disease. I have had the privilege to volunteer for Other Options and see first-hand how the food pantry and our other services truly impacts our clients’ lives. I am deeply honored and also excited to take on the Executive Director role.
Other Options-Friends Food Pantry offers a wonderful place for people to exercise the power of community. It is amazing to see the support that people provide to help those in need, and many of these folks have been or are currently clients of Friends Food pantry. The cycle of helping others when you can help and accepting help when you have a need makes for a strong community. Friends food pantry offers a fun environment for volunteering. Being a volunteer at the Friends Food pantry is like being a member of a family. We support each other as we support others. Volunteering brings a feeling of happiness and accomplishment, and for younger volunteers it also leads to increased empathy and compassion. If you wish to support an organization that is right here in your hometown serving your community, please volunteer with us. We need your support; without your support we cannot exist. Plus, the cumulative impact of volunteer efforts like this often leads to positive systemic changes, creating a ripple effect that transforms communities for the better.
The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Oklahoma is continuing to grow. The need for our services is also increasing due to the ending of the SNAP emergency allotments. According to the US Department of Agriculture, food-at-home prices increased by 11.4% in 2022 and are projected to increase another 8% in 2023. As a result, we have more households needing to access Other Options. Our clients often have higher direct costs for care including costs for nutrient-dense food, nutrition formula, and meals specifically stocked at Other Options. If you have a need to use the services of the Friends Food Pantry, please do. That is why we are here, to help during tough times. There is no income level requirement – you do not have to be “poor” to use the pantry. If we can help you keep your car or pay for the utilities by supplying you with food, let us do that.
Cookie and Mary Arbuckle worked tirelessly to keep Other Options and the Friends Food pantry open – even during the COVID pandemic which had a direct impact on our immune compromised clients. I am excited to follow in their footsteps and continue to provide the amazing services to our clients and be a home and safe space for our volunteers and clients.
I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you all to Other Options!
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi