The University of Central Arkansas unveiled the first university food bank in the city of colleges. The Bear Essentials Food Bank, in Room 108, Main Hall, provides canned foods and other non-perishables to students and faculty in need every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The food bank idea came from four main people over the past 10 years. Brian James, Instructor; Reessa Ramsahai, staff counselor; Marvin Williams, UCAN coordinator and academic advisor; and Melissa Shock, associate professor, were involved.

Williams was the first to propose the food bank project to the board.

"A few years ago, I wrote a proposal about a food pantry and gave it to administration," said Williams.

This was inspired by talks with a student that had explained she hadn’t eaten in a few days. This spurred a call to action.

James was inspired to open a food bank at UCA following participation in CANstruction, "a unique charity, which hosts competitions, exhibitions, and events showcasing colossal structures made entirely out of full cans of food. After the structures are built, the creations go on display to the public as a giant art exhibition. At the end of the even, all food is donated to local hunger relief organizations," stated the CANstruction stie.

The unlikely group of people met to discuss their mutual vision for a food bank.

"We had four different people sort of separately have the idea some for longer than others," said James. "It was really serendipitous that all of us happened to catch wind of each other and team up."

Some students are ecstatic that this service is available.

"I’m glad this is happening. To be honest, I have a lot of friends that have to use all of the excess loan money to pay for books, housing, etc. and food money runs out rather quickly. Having this is wonderful and may save students and faculty from going hungry," said UCA student Kerry Nighstrom.

Applications are available in person and online to receive a supply of items.

The application is simple, asking only for name, UCA ID number, number of family members, and e-mail address. After submitting the application, a confirmation with the time of pick up will be sent to the applicant.

Donations are always accepted and encouraged. The UCA Bear Essentials Food Bank functions completely on the donations from the community.

For more information on how to donate or to apply for a food package visit or contact Brian James at