POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT)- The BRAD food bank in Pocahontas is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays and several times this summer they have had to turn people away when they had nothing to give.
What may seem like abundance one day will soon be reduced to empty shelving the next. Over the summer the food bank has provided food for 704 households which equates to about 1600 people. Those are remarkable numbers considering families may only draw from the bank once a month. Flora Mansker says assistance requirements will vary a lot from day to day.
"Somedays could be 88 families. Another day could be 44 but for you you're not counting just one person you're counting several that's in the family. Could be 3 people to 6 people." Mansker said.
When we visited the shelves had enough food to last through this week. Mansker said this is a pretty rare occurrence during the summer.
"We do have a lack of food." She said. "We are in desperate need and sometimes our cries are not heard."
One of the issues being such a small food bank is usage. Mansker, "We can only do this once a month for a family or an individual." The forms that must be filled out to obtain assistance clearly point out that it is for "emergency use only."
Mansker said that a day before we visited the shelves were nearly bare until several local people and groups stopped by.
"We have our regular people who donate like churches here and we also have just individuals." Mansker said. "Even a 20 dollar check can help."
From time to time they must purchase food but they have to use their own vehicles to pick it up. For that reason they do not buy food from the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in Jonesboro.
But the numbers tell the story. There is hunger in Randolph County. Mansker says it doesn't take long to delete the shelves.
"One person could be coming in with a family of six; another person could be coming in with a family of eight." She waved her hand around at the shelves in pantry, "That could take away a lot of food that is on the shelf."
The pantry is very sensitive to the needs of kids; a note on the supply lists says that families with children will get extra items if available.
Mansker said right now is a difficult time for low income homes.
"The moms or dads or grandmas are worried about getting their school supplies." Mansker says, "Well what about that plate of food? What about their cereal?"
Along with canned goods, they do have a specific need.
"Most families ask about meat products." She said, Opening a freezer she showed me frozen bologna and hot dogs. "We do have storage for that. We do have refrigerators and freezers."
They are always looking for more community support to meet their needs and the needs of the community.
"On days we open the panty." She said, "The doors are always opening because somebody is coming in."
If you would like to make a donation you can call the BRAD food bank at 870-892-4547 and ask to speak to Flora Mansker or Jean Oaks.