Ar­vest seeks to col­lect a Mil­lion Meals

The Saline Courier Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Elisha Morrison

Ar­vest Bank is seek­ing to col­lect non­per­ish­able food items and mon­e­tary do­na­tions to pro­vide food for local com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions through June 1.

In Sa­line County and across Cen­tral Ar­kan­sas, the food and money will go to the Ar­kan­sas

Food Bank, which re­dis­tributes to other or­ga­ni­za­tions to feed those in need.

“Mil­lion Meals is an Ar­vest Bank ini­tia­tive to fight local hunger in the com­mu­ni­ties we serve,” said Sa­line County Com­mu­nity Bank Pres­i­dent Phillip Par­tain.

Ac­cord­ing to the Food Re­search & Ac­tion Cen­ter, only 15 of ev­ery 100 low-in­come chil­dren who re­ceived lunch in the 2016-17 school year re­ceived summer lunches. Par­tain said with­out school to pro­vide meals, many chil­dren face the risk of go­ing hun­gry.

He added that food do­na­tions to local food banks tend to de­menish in spring and summer.

“Through­out Cen­tral Ar­kan­sas, our goal is to raise two mil­lion meals this year,” Par­tain said.

Ar­kan­sas is ranked the sec­ond most food inse­cure state in the coun­try, based on av­er­age rates from 2015 through 2017, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

Par­tain said dur­ing the past eight years, Mil­lion Meals has raised

13.6 mil­lion meals for fam­i­lies in Ar­kan­sas, Kansas, Mis­souri and Ok­la­homa.

“This year we hope will be a con­tin­u­a­tion of that success,” Par­tain said.

He ex­plained Ar­vest’s cul­ture is about serv­ing the com­mu­ni­ties where its banks are lo­cated.

Ar­vest has two lo­ca­tions in Sa­line County, one at the in­ter­sec­tion of Ar­kan­sas 5 and Reynolds Road in Bryant and the other at the in­ter­sec­tion of Mil­i­tary and Al­coa roads in Ben­ton.

“In Sa­line County, we’re ex­cited to part­ner with the Ar­kan­sas Food Bank, so all food and money col­lected in our area will go directly to them,” Par­tain said. “They do so much good work in our com­mu­nity and through­out Cen­tral Ar­kan­sas, and we want to do our part to help out as well.”

The bank is ask­ing the com­mu­nity to bring in non­per­ish­able food items from canned foods to dried foods to boxed ce­real. The bank can also take mon­e­tary do­na­tions in the branch or through the Ar­vest Go mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion.

Each Ar­vest brach is hold­ing events to en­cour­age do­na­tions. The Ben­ton branch re­cently held a grill event and the Bryant branch held a bake sale with the pro­ceeds go­ing to the food drive.

The branches are also sell­ing pa­per forks for a dol­lar. Par­tain said one dol­lar is equiv­a­lent to five meals at the Ar­kan­sas Food Bank.

Par­tain en­cour­ages the com­mu­nity to stop by and drop off do­na­tions.

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