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Food pantry open to all families

by DANIEL BEREZNICKI [email protected] | November 21, 2022 at 8:15 p.m.
Westside Eagle Observer/DANIEL BEREZNICKI Kelly Hankins(left) and Amanda Kelly(right) organize the food pantry at the Western Benton County Career center building. With the help of their students, they distribute boxes of food that were donated by the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank to family and members of the community.The Highlands United Methodist Church also donated food and supplies.

GRAVETTE -- Through the partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank and the help of the Highlands United Methodist Church in Bella Vista, Amanda Kelly and Kelly Hankins have been helping feed residents in Gravette.

The food pantry is in the Western Benton County Career Center building at 406 Sixth Ave S.E. It welcomes families and students to come to visit and take part in this provision.

The first food pantry opened on Nov. 3, and it was a success because of its partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.

The NWA Food Bank is a nonprofit organization that is "dedicated to making sure children, families and communities across Northwest Arkansas don't face hunger."

The food bank brings food products to the pantry, and the volunteers help distribute them to families in need.

Kelly Hankins said, because of the economy and inflation, families in Gravette are struggling to provide food and basic needs for their kids and their families.

"We just wanted to utilize all the resources we had to be able to help people," said Hankins. "So all of this comes at no cost to the district."

Amanda Kelly is the Bright Futures coordinator for the Gravette school district.

Bright Futures is a nonprofit organization that helps students find resources to get the basic needs for school and other necessities. Often this means partnering with "businesses, human service agencies, faith-based organizations and parent groups" that have the resources to give them what they need.

Both Kelly and Hankins took a moment and wanted to thank the Highlands United Methodist Church for their contributions.

"They're donating everything you see not in a box ... it's a huge help."

To benefit from the pantry, proof of income isn't required, and it's on a first-come, first-served basis for all visitors.

Both Kelly and Hankins enjoy organizing the food pantry because it takes a little bit of the stress off the families. That means they'll have the means to pay for other necessities like buying groceries, making car payments, and paying electric bills.

The food pantry plans to organize more events consecutively on the first Thursdays of the month. And because of the holiday season, the pantry will offer more opportunities for families and communities to visit.

"We're doing extra time ... in December because the kids will be home. So that means extra meals parents will have to provide," said Hankins. "So we're providing some extra food for them."

The pantry will be open again on Dec. 1 and 15.

photo Westside Eagle Observer/DANIEL BEREZNICKI Kelly Hankins (left) and Amanda Kelly (right) stand in front of boxes that contain food and supplies for the members of the community that are in need. These are just a few of the boxes that were donated. The partnerships between the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, Bright Futures Gravette and Highlands United Methodist Church made all this possible.

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