Volunteers work to feed seniors

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-Members of the Jonesboro Young Professionals Network were out in full force at the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas on Thursday.

The Senior Pack Program provides a 20 pound box of food every other week for an entire year to a sponsored senior.

Director of Development for the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Vicki Pillow, says the need in Northeast Arkansas is huge.

""Feeding America recently did a survey," Pillow said. "It showed that 3 million senior citizens in the country are having to face choices between buying food or paying the rent, or buying food and paying their utilities. And 9 out of 10 of those seniors live in the South. And Arkansas continually has one of the highest rates of hunger in the country."

One of the volunteers and a member of the JYPN, Cory McDaniel, says the number of people in need is overwhelming.

"It's staggering," McDaniel said. "It's wild. It's something I think a lot of people ignore because they don't think it's around here. In your day to day life I think people purposely go out of their way not to see those things, but they're everywhere. So, it's really not surprising to me, but it's sad.

JYPN volunteer Courtney Shackelford was aware of the need in the Region 8 area and feels everyone should do whatever they can to help.

"Hungry seniors, that's just not acceptable," Shackelford said. "They should be helped. We should support them. And those of us who are able and have the time and the means to do it, there's no reason not to."

The Senior Pack Program has been made possible through the Wal-Mart Foundation state giving grant of $35, 000.

Pillow says they were able to include additional items with the money they've not been able to before.

"These funds were used to purchase more nutritious foods for the food boxes," Pillow said. "Examples of the foods are whole grain pasta, healthier choices of soup and spinach. And we've been able to expand our canned vegetable selection to include canned carrots, which previously were too expensive for us."

Right now, the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas has enough money to feed 160 Region 8 seniors.

However, Pillow says there is a waiting list of 43 seniors trying to get on who need help and are going hungry.

You can sponsor a senior for $150 a year.

One can also donate some of the needed food items to fill a seniors box.

For more information on how you can help, you can contact the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas by calling 870-932-3663 or 870-932-FOOD.

To log onto their website, click here.

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