Volunteer wins grant for Food Bank of NEA

Volunteer wins grant for Food Bank of NEA
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A young man who has volunteered at the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas for roughly three years gives them more than just his time.

Jonesboro Insurance Group and Jonesboro Young Professionals member Will Branch decided to apply for a national award with Safeco Insurance to try and further help the food bank.

Branch applied for the award and won, nominating the Food Bank of NEA as the recipient of $5,000.

The organization, that's based out of Washington, has been in business since 1923. They have a charitable donation program called "Make More Happen".

Safeco Insurance Territory Manager Natalie Russell said they pick around 66 agencies to donate money to.

"I love to help charities and organizations," Russell said. "It feels like we're doing something for the community and that we're lending a helping hand where it's needed."

Christie Jordan, the executive director of the Food Bank of NEA said it's only with the help of volunteers they can meet the need in Region 8.

"It means so much to us that we have so many generous partners," Jordan said. "Will and the Jonesboro Young Professionals are another generation of volunteers and donors that are helping us carry out our mission. It's because of people like this that the food bank exists."

Branch said after he volunteered for the food bank for the first time, he was hooked.

"The people I volunteered with were great," Branch said. "When we saw what we had done, it was very contagious. We knew we were doing good in the community. You could see it. You could touch it. It was tangible and I've been coming back ever since."

The program Branch and JYPN volunteer for specifically serves senior citizens.

"Sadly, Arkansas is at the top of the list for senior hunger in the United States," Jordan said. "It's definitely a problem that we are trying to take action against and we really appreciate the support of the community that has sponsored the seniors to receive the boxes and the Young Professionals that come out to pack those and make it possible."

Branch said he was stunned to discover just how many people in the Region 8 area go hungry.

"I know the food bank has a lot of donations, but they could always use more," Branch said. "Hunger is an issue in Northeast Arkansas. It's something we are addressing and they are addressing. But the need is there."

The Food Bank of NEA serves more than 5,000 people each week in the 12 counties they serve, and Jordan said the need continues to grow.

"Last year we distributed a little over five and a half million pounds of food," Jordan said. "This year we will distribute six million pounds of food in the twelve counties we serve in Northeast Arkansas. And that's still not enough. There are still families that are struggling to provide basic nutrition needs for their families."

The food bank can provide five meals for every one dollar donated.

The money from this grant will provide 25,000 meals to the people of Region 8.

If you would like to make a donation, contact the food bank at 932-3663 or 932-FOOD.

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