John 3:16 Mission feeds thousands

The generosity of Tulsans is displayed all over the city at Thanksgiving but a prime example is John 3:16 Mission – a Christian organization that helps feed thousands of families every year.

“At John 3:16 Mission, we always say, ‘hope begins with a meal,’” said the Rev. Steve Whitaker, senior pastor at John 3:16 Mission.

The need in Tulsa is large and growing.

“There are a lot of people in our community who are characterized as ‘food insecure,’” said Whitaker. “They just don’t have enough money to make it through the month and they have difficult choices regarding how they eat. Sometimes you see a person working two jobs that is eating one meal a day or they are choosing two meals a day so their kids can eat three. These are really heart-rending circumstances. The compassion for us is to help as many people as we can.”

In November and December, the Mission expects to serve over 38,600 meals to the hungry and homeless of Tulsa. The goal was to collect and distribute to needy families 5,000 turkey baskets to feed 20,000 people before Thanksgiving.  That’s 27-30 tons of turkeys and 110,000 pounds of canned goods.  Each basket contains a turkey and traditional foods for Thanksgiving with enough to feed a family of four.  Sometimes the Mission adds extra potatoes to families with 5-7 kids to stretch the meal, Whitaker said.

“It’s a lot of work to gather it and get it out,” Whitaker said. “It’s a herculean effort to distribute it to the community.”

Whitaker said he gets numerous heart-felt thank yous from recipients of the turkey baskets, some of whom show up the night before the wait in line. (John 3:16 carefully vets families who receive baskets to make sure they have a genuine need for food. They have to have a legitimate address and a way to cook the turkey.) The Mission gladly will take donations of turkeys after Thanksgiving, too.

“This is a good time to come down to John 3:16 and see what it’s like on the other side of the tracks,” Whitaker said. “It is a different life than a lot of people think that it is. I think people are mostly shocked when they meet people struggling with poverty or going through hard times in our community. They look very different than you might think.”

For information, call 918-587-1186 or go online at

Some Free Thanksgiving meals on Thursday

  • Apple Barrel Cafe, 15225 S. Memorial Drive, Bixby, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Batman’s Good Food/Subway sandwiches, 1444 N. Mingo Road, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Duffy’s, 706 S. Elm Place, Broken Arrow, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • First United Methodist Church, 112 E. College St., Broken Arrow, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Loaves and Fishes, 11321 E. 19th St., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Salvation Army, 102 N. Denver Ave., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tally’s Good Food Cafe, 1102 S. Yale Ave., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.