Jefferson County Extension Homemakers Clubs have been working since last fall to collect food and raise money as part of a statewide effort to provide one million meals for food-insecure Arkansans. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, EHC is taking their food drive online.
Donations can be made via www.uaex.edu/EHC. Donations made in Jefferson County EHC’s name will go to the Arkansas Foodbank at Little Rock and Warren where $1 provides as many as five meals, according to a news release.
Jefferson County has six Extension Homemakers Clubs that are included in 320 clubs in the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council, one of the state’s largest volunteer groups with 3,700 members. The clubs are partnering with six Feeding America Food Banks across Arkansas, which can buy food in bulk for pennies on the dollar.
The Jefferson County clubs are involved in many community service projects. They recently sewed and donated 86 cot sheets to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Kids First. Now, they are sewing cloth masks for Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Trinity Village, Children’s Hospital and UAMS.
Though face-to-face events are canceled for now, the EHC members hope Jefferson County residents will still give online to help others who may be struggling.
According to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, 17.3 percent of Arkansans were at risk of not knowing where to get their next meal, and 23.6 percent of children were food insecure before the pandemic.
The fundraising effort comes at a critical time, as food banks are seeing a surge in requests for services, especially among those who have experienced job loss or a reduction in work hours, senior citizens and others who have difficulty accessing food through their local grocery stores and markets.
The EHC clubs will continue fundraising through 2021, said Karen Bell Fox, AEHC State President, from Rison.
“We have an ambitious goal, and we’re committed to it,” Fox said. “We believe that working together in a group we can have a powerful impact on our communities and our state by helping get food into the hands of those among us who are struggling.”
Hunger relief has been an ongoing effort in Extension Homemakers’ work throughout their 100-year history.
Last year, the Jefferson County EHC members donated more than 20,000 volunteer hours. Statewide, the group donated more than 325,000 hours of service.
To donate or get involved, call Mary Ann Kizer, EHC advisor at the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service, at 870-534-1033, or donate at www.uaex.edu/EHC.
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