Million Meals Campaign Reaches Halfway Point

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- With just a month left to go, the Million Meals Campaign with Arvest has had over 500,000 meals donated.

Karen Gray, the vice president of marketing in Fayetteville said there is still plenty of time for people to donate at any Arvest location.

The donations stay where you donate and will go to organizations around your community that help those who are food insecure.

One of the groups benefiting from this campaign is the Fayetteville Salvation Army.

Northwest Arkansas Area Commander Josh Robinett said right now they are transforming their food pantry to be client choice.

"The feel that you’re going to have with our food pantries is going to be sort of like a grocery store," Robinett said. "What that is going to allow our guests to do when they come in, it empowers them and also provides better stewardship for us. We’re going to see a whole lot of less food waste."

Previously, families had to fill out an application and were given a bag of food prepared for them.

When the pantry opens in early June, they will get to pick out what their families need.

Robinett said they are also starting a new program aimed at helping Fayetteville Public School students who may not have a way to eat during the summer.

"The need does to up in the summer," Gray said. "Part of that is the school kids that are getting fed during the school year don’t have food. We found out in doing some research in 2016 that one in seven children that are doing the free or reduced lunch program got fed during the summer months."

Gray explained they are very excited to see the Salvation Army start this program with the help of the Million Meals Campaign.

Robinett said this program allows them to invest in the kids who are the future.

They know that kids learn better when they have full bellies and they want to make sure they are ready to go back to school in August.

"If they get a good education, chances are they are less likely to live in poverty and have to rely on services at places like the Salvation Army," Robinett said. "That’s what we want to achieve."

Arvest is still taking donations through June 2.

Gray said they are looking for non-perishable food items or money.

In the four states that Arvest serves, she said on average just one dollar can provide 5 meals.

The Salvation Army hopes to have a ribbon cutting for their new pantry at the end of May and then open their doors around June 1.