Nearly 20 SWEPCO employees volunteered last month at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank helping to sort and pack boxes of food to be distributed to those in need.
The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank is one of six Feeding America Food Banks in Arkansas and operates as a collection and distribution facility – storing and distributing food that is either donated or purchased through donations, said Brad Smith, NWA Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator. These items are sorted and boxed before being distributing to more than 115 agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. In 2021, the Food Bank distributed over 14 million pounds of food to those agencies, including mobile pantries and school pantries.
“In Arkansas, one in five people experience food insecurity and one in four children go hungry,” Smith said. “When we talk about food insecurity, that’s different than the children we see in other countries who are malnourished with bloated bellies. Food insecurity means families are having to decide between buying food and paying a bill.”
These statistics, according to the NWA Food Bank, rank Arkansas second in the nation for food insecurity.
That was an eye-opening experience for Nancy Guisinger, Energy Efficiency & Consumer Products Coordinator – Senior, who was one of the many employees from Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale to volunteer at the food bank. Combined, employees volunteered more than 60 total hours over a two-day period.
“Food insecurity is something I am very passionate about,” Guisinger said. “People often think that those who use the food banks or pantries are homeless, but sadly, that is not the case. It is often utilized by working people who have to make a choice of either paying their utility bills or putting food on their tables. If volunteering four hours of my time helps ease that burden on families, then I have to say it is time well spent.”
SWEPCO volunteers helped sort and package donated items such as tuna, peanut butter, soup and canned vegetables for distribution to local food pantries.
“This was a really great volunteer effort,” said Bradley Hardin, External Affairs and State Government Affairs Manager in Fayetteville. “It’s a busy time of year for the food bank, and I know they appreciated our help.”
To learn more about the NWA Food Bank, and how to volunteer, visit arkansasfoodbank.org.