The Arkansas City Community Food Pantry recently opened in Arkansas City.

The Arkansas City Community Food Pantry recently opened in Arkansas City.

The project is a partnership between the Arkansas Foodbank, Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas City Baptist Church and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.

“The opportunity to be part of the Arkansas Foodbank is a blessing to the citizens of Arkansas City and the surrounding communities of Desha and Chicot County,” said Arkansas City Mayor Carolyne Blissett.

Numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health show that Desha County is 26 percent food insecure, meaning more than a quarter of the county does not know where their next meal is coming from. Only two small pantries exist in nearby towns.

A local campaign raised more than $5,000 in donations in 90 days — funds that will cover all startup costs, including refrigerators, freezers, supplies and food. The city dedicated the C.B. King School, closed after consolidation, as the site for the pantry. Volunteers provided the labor.

Its grand opening on June 1 served food to 38 families and 81 people in Desha County. The pantry will continue to distribute food once a month and will be run by volunteers.

“Our area suffers from low economic structure, poor employment opportunities and a steady decrease of population. These mentioned issues often cause our citizens to frequently choose between food and other financial challenges like medicine and utilities. This partnership will lessen that burden at many levels for our area in ‘LA’ (lower Arkansas, as we call it),” Blissett said. “I appreciate the eagerness and effortlessness from the Foodbank and their staff that made this community pantry happen in Arkansas City. Our challenge now will be finding solutions on how to keep funds coming in to supply this much appreciated food pantry. We will sustain it.”

The Arkansas Foodbank, the largest food bank in Arkansas, is a member of Feeding America and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Its warehouses in Little Rock, Warren and Caddo Valley serve about 300 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other agencies that provide aid directly to hungry Arkansans. Last year the Foodbank distributed more than 16 million pounds of food to agencies that help feed the hungry. Details: