United Way, University Food Pantry Aid in Childhood Poverty

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The United Way of Northwest Arkansas as well as the Jane B. Gearhart Food Pantry on campus are helping to lower poverty rates in Northwest Arkansas.

One in every four children in the community suffer from childhood poverty.

By definition, poverty means the state of being extremely poor.

“If you look at the statistics on free and reduced lunch, in several of our communities we have elementary schools where 100-percent of the children are eligible for free and reduced lunch,” said President of the United Way of Northwest Arkansas Kim Aaron.

To put this in perspective, some parents drop their kids off at school knowing that the lunch they are served could be the only hot meal that they get that day.

At the UofA, students and faculty have a way to help these families provide for themselves and their children.

The Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry provides university affiliates the opportunity the volunteer and provide food to help lower the poverty rate in NWA.

“We are a resource for staff and students to get anything they may need including food, toiletries, and every now and then school supplies and other things like that,” said pantry intern Nico Suarez.

Similar to the United Way, Full Circle Food Pantry volunteers take away much more than just helping people get by.

“In the face to face interaction you get with them, you immediately see the change,” Suarez said. “Other volunteerings are awesome but you don’t really get to see the change happen like right there.”

The United Way and The Food Pantry on campus share a common goal: all it takes to make a difference in the community is a good heart and the desire to help others.

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