I Feel the Need volunteers handed out 1,650 food boxes on Tuesday to help families battling food insecurity.
The local nonprofit feeding ministry and food broker has provided food to local families and other nonprofits for two weeks and is preparing to organize a third event next week. Though the past two free food pickup events were held at the Community Action Program for Central Arkansas, I Feel the Need, Inc. Executive Director Shane Willbanks said the third event will be held at a different location to allow CAPCA workers to better serve their clients.
I Feel the Need has teamed up with the United States Department of Agriculture and other local partners to provide free food to Faulkner County families battling insecurity.
On Tuesday morning, the nonprofit received 22 pallets of dairy products and vegetables, and the food was dispersed evenly between families and local food banks.
To go home sweaty and tired at the end of the day Tuesday was worth it after seeing children smile and “knowing families would have the food they need,” Willbanks said.
“It makes you tear up a little bit,” he said.
At one point, the line at CAPCA extended through the parking lot and onto Robins Street. Volunteers began handing food out at 8:30 a.m. and handed out the last food box around 1 p.m. Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of people hurting and a lot of people not working,” Willbanks said. “This is a great opportunity for people to come and get fresh food.”
Families who took advantage of the opportunity I Feel the Need created said they were thankful to receive the food boxes.
“Honestly, if we didn’t have this, I probably wouldn’t have anything in the house at all,” Faulkner County resident Laila Taylor said.
I Feel the Need is able to provide food to local residents though the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
The Farmers to Families Food Box Program is part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that allows the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to partner with national, regional and other local food suppliers to have been affected by restaurant closures – as well as other business shutdowns caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic – and purchase up to $3 billion in dairy and meat products along with fresh produce. I Feel the Need applied for and was granted assistance under the stipulation that it disperses the family-sized food boxes to families, other nonprofits as well as community and faith-based organizations that can also distribute the food.
Organizers will announce the next distribution location and date later this week and welcome volunteers to sign up to hand out food once that date is set in stone.
Residents can reach out about volunteer opportunities via I Feel the Need’s Facebook page.
Residents can also donate monetarily to the program online at ifeeltheneed.org.
Those seeking assistance through the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program are not required to show I Feel the Need volunteers any documentation regarding their income or proof of residency to receive food.
Content partner KATV contributed to this article.