Staggering Numbers Show HUGE need for food in NEA

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A one day event feeds about 500 people, but still leaves many in need.

The Craighead County Commodities Distribution took place on Wednesday at the Parker Park Community Center in Jonesboro.

USDA Coordinator at the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas Keith Livesay said this program is needed.

"This is the Craighead County Commodities Distribution," Livesasy said. "We do this four times a year. The Mercy Food Assistance Program lets the ones who qualify come in and get a box of food. Today we also have blueberries to give out."

Jonesboro resident Graneshia Clark is the mother of a one year old.

Clark said without programs like this one, things would be harder for herself and her daughter.

"I saw flyers at a couple of churches and decided to come by," Clark said. "I think this is a really good program. It helps out a lot. It helps with food and other stuff. Me being a single parent it helps out a lot. Sometimes I don't have enough to pay bills and enough to spend money on food and programs like this really help out."

"It's very important," Livesay said. "A lot of them are on a lot of medication and they're trying to figure out whether to get their meds this month or buy food. So, this is not going to take care of them for the whole month, but it's a supplement. It will help them. Each one of the boxes weighs 19 or 20 pounds. So, there are several days of food in each box."

16-year-old Selena Garcia was at the distribution event with her mother.

She said if weren't for programs like this, things would be really hard for her family.

"My family, they don't get to work because it's so hot," Garcia said. "And we haven't had the money to go get the stuff. So, this helps."

"There's a great need in Northeast Arkansas," Livesay said. "There are a lot of food pantries around. There are just so many people who need more these days. The income level, plus the medicine. It's so expensive."

Livesay said he started doing this because he wanted to help others.

"I want to help people," Livesay said. "I have a passion for this. I give God all the glory and praise. He provides. He provides us food and volunteers. He provides the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas. I often tell people you just never know. It can happen to anyone of us. We could need food. Something could happen. So, it's a great program. I'm grateful to God for it."

And he's not the only one.

Volunteer and Jonesboro resident Mable Olson said she wants to make a difference.

"I'm giving out food to the people that really need food," Olsen said. "Some of them wouldn't have a meal. It's their next meal. And they wouldn't have it if it wasn't for us coming out here and volunteering like we do. I've been doing this for almost twenty years. It's a passion for me. I don't want anybody to go hungry. The people who come through here are kind. They always say thank you and appreciate us taking time out to make sure they have food."

They handed out 456 boxes of food in a matter of hours.

The food insecurity rate for the state of Arkansas is 18.4% or 549,070 people.

For Northeast Arkansas, that number is a food insecurity rate of 19.2% or 95,860.

To make those numbers even worse, there are currently 31,090 children hungry in the Northeast Arkansas area.

Director of Development for the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Vicki Pillow, says they distribute the equivalent of 110,000 meals per week in the 12 counties they serve.

To learn what you can do to help, you can call the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas at (870) 932-3663 or 932-FOOD.

You can also log onto their website by clicking here.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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