Local food pantry readying for Thanksgiving


Courtesy CFEC

Boxes upon boxes filled to the brim with goods for Thanksgiving.

For five years now, the Community Family Enrichment Center on North 23rd Street in Arkadelphia and the Clark County Ecumenical Food Pantry have worked together to get fulfilling holiday meals to families in the Arkadelphia area who are food insecure on the week before Thanksgiving. While these two groups organize the distribution of food boxes, they are not alone.

“This is truly a community-wide effort,” said Dr. Patricia Wright of the CFEC on Monday, November 15. “We have churches, the universities, businesses pitching in to donate and pack.”

Hunger in Clark County is at a level at least as bad as the state of Arkansas as a whole. According to Feeding America, food insecurity affected 17.3% of the population of the state in 2018, and Clark County was marginally above that at 17.5%, and as many as one in five children are affected. Cindy Jackson of the CCEFP says that the problem is at least as bad for senior citizens in the state, a problem that is exacerbated by mobility issues, with many seniors simply not being able to leave home to get the food they need.

“There are 24 or 25 houses that we actually deliver boxes to,” said Jackson on Monday. While there, volunteers also work to meet other needs, such as filling out insurance paperwork or setting up email accounts so these seniors do not get left behind in an increasingly digital age.

At the time of the interview, 603 boxes were packed to be handed out via drive-thru service Tuesday from 9 AM to 6 PM, and many were still working to fill more with bread, green vegetables, canned and fresh fruit, and whole chickens (recent supply chain issues stopped them from getting more traditional Thanksgiving turkey as in years past, but no one will go without meat). Volunteers from churches and businesses helped prepare for a week before distribution, as did people facing incarceration, who often come from food insecure families themselves.

“When people tell me about someone they know who is hungry,” said Wright, “I say “Not here. Not in Clark County.’”