ARKANSAS CITY, AR (News Release) - The Arkansas Foodbank in partnership with the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas City Baptist Church and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, is excited to announce the opening of the Arkansas City Community Food Pantry, the first community pantry in the area.
"The opportunity to be part of the Arkansas Foodbank is a blessing to the citizens of Arkansas City and the surrounding communities of Desha and Chicot County," said Mayor Carolyne Blissett of Arkansas City.
Numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health show that Desha County is 26% food insecure, meaning more than a quarter of the entire county does not know where their next meal is coming from. Since only two small pantries exist in nearby towns, Arkansas City officials decided to fight this challenge.
A local campaign accomplished this goal within 90 days by raising more than $5,000 in donations from the community - funds that will cover all startup costs including refrigerators, freezers, supplies and food. The city also decided to dedicate the C.B. King School, closed after consolidation, as the site for the new community pantry. The physical work to get the pantry opened was strictly volunteer efforts from the community.
Its grand opening on June 1st served food to 38 families and 81 people in Desha County. The pantry will continue to distribute food once a month and will be run only by volunteers.
"Our area suffers from low economic structure, poor employment opportunities, and a steady decrease of population. These mentioned issues often cause our citizens to frequently choose between food and other financial challenges like medicine and utilities. This partnership will lessen that burden at many levels for our area in "LA" (lower Arkansas, as we call it)." said Mayor Blissett. "I appreciate the eagerness and effortlessness from the Foodbank and their staff that made this community pantry happen in Arkansas City. Our challenge now will be finding solutions on how to keep funds coming in to supply this much appreciated food pantry. We will sustain it."
The Arkansas Foodbank, the largest food bank in Arkansas, is a member of Feeding America and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Its warehouses in Little Rock, Warren, and Caddo Valley serve approximately 300 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other agencies that provide aid directly to hungry Arkansans.