Free Food Friday

Free Food Friday will continue the over the next three weeks at a new location.

I Feel the Need volunteers will hand out food boxes to families in need from the Conway Expo & Event Center beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16. Volunteers with the feeding ministry previously provided food boxes to families battling food insecurity at the Soul Food Café Mission but opted to change locations as they expect to receive a larger shipment.

“Due to the increased volume in traffic at our last few events, we have simply outgrown the location and began seeking a larger venue,” I Feel the Need Executive Director Shane Willbanks told the Log Cabin Democrat. “The city of Conway stepped in and offered to let us use the parking lot at the Expo Center tomorrow [Friday] and next Friday [Oct. 23].”

Gearing up for the food distribution drive-thru event, Willbanks said he hopes to receive more than 1,500 boxes to disperse among central Arkansas residents and area food banks.

“The manifest said the trucks would have 1,536 all-in-one boxes. We wound up getting just over 1,700 boxes last week, and nearly 1,200 gallons of milk. So I would expect something very close to that again [Friday, Oct. 16],” he said.

The all-in-one boxes include 30 pounds of food.

“Boxes will be an all-in-one kit including protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Examples of the components will be chicken, eggs, yogurt, milk, apples [and] potatoes,” a United States Department of Agriculture representative said.

Families who attend the drive-thru event can pick up food boxes for up to two families.

In the past, the feeding ministry has allowed groups to leave with several boxes but cannot continue doing this as the volume of those who line-up for the event increases each week.

Residents should follow the traffic cone-lined path as volunteers unload the shipment. Volunteers will start handing out food boxes to those in line at 9 a.m.

“If people are early, we just ask that they are patient as we get the truck unloaded and the food sorted in its proper locations,” Willbanks said. “After they receive their boxes, they will exit behind the Expo Center and out to the East.”

The feeding ministry’s executive director said it was a blessing to receive the food and help out area residents in need.

“We are very blessed to get these next few trucks and we hope that it will continue into November and December,” Willbanks said. “Please stay tuned on social media or our website for the latest information.”

Those seeking food assistance do not have to show volunteers their ID or any other identifying documents to receive food boxes.

“No ID or documentation is required, just show up with room in your vehicle for us to load the food boxes,” Willbanks said.

To donate to I Feel the Need or for more information about the group and its food distribution schedule, visit www.facebook/feelingtheneed or www.ifeelthe

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at

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