NEWS Arkansas food pantries struggle to keep shelves stocked

Arkansas food pantries struggle to keep shelves stocked

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of people seeking help at food pantries. They’ll see more this holiday season.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Thanksgiving has come and gone — and so has the food on the shelves in The Watersheds pantry.

“It’s a big need. Not only do we have to feed people through Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we have to feed them after Christmas,” said Employment Services Director Fred Hokes.

They hope to restock in time for the next delivery on Dec. 19, but that has been a challenge, he said.

“We couldn’t do this without the involvement and help of the community. Because it does take a village to support a family, and we have families that do need help,” Hawkes explained.

He added that making sure they had enough to eat was crucial, especially for children who were away from school.

“They do need food and they do need to be able to eat a decent meal,” Hawkes said.

The Arkansas Food Bank agrees with Hawkes.

“They won’t have access to the free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch that they used to get in school settings,” said Sarah Riffle, the food bank’s chief development officer.

Riffle explained that they are working hard to ensure that they are well stocked and can supply food to the pantry they serve statewide.

“They really want us to try to get food in the lowest possible amount and get as much free food as possible to really make up for what they can’t get themselves,” Riffle said.

She added that making sure every pantry is stocked is critical, especially after seeing more demand this holiday season than last.

“Our pantries have been saying, we need extra food, we need extra resources to get through the holidays,” Riffle said.

Both agencies are doing what they can to help Arkansans and are asking the community to lend a helping hand as well.

“Not just to meet the growing need now, but to get us through the first quarter of next year, when donations of food and money are really down,” Riffle said.

“Watershed has been doing this for over 40 years, and we want to continue doing it,” Hokes said.

Both agencies also accept food donations that can be sent to their agencies.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering or donating to food banks, visit their website here.

If you would like to learn more about The Watershed, click here.

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