Within the sheet-metal walls of the Arkansas Food Bank, pallets of food tower to the ceiling along a half-dozen rows. These canned goods, boxed meals, cereals and other non-perishables will eventually find their way to the plates of some of the most food-deprived people in the United States.
In Arkansas – much like in some neighboring states – hunger is a growing concern. Nearly 20 percent of Arkansans do not know where their next meal is coming from, according to Sharmin Moody, regional gifts coordinator with the Arkansas Foodbank.
“More than 277,000 people face food insecurity in the 33 counties we serve,” Moody explains, adding that one in four children and one in four seniors are at risk for hunger.
Those stats alarmed MISO employees who recently spent time volunteering at the Foodbank.
“Hunger is a real problem for our region, and it is particularly heartbreaking when you know it affects so many children and our seniors,” says MISO Compliance Analyst Lovita Griffin.
Griffin helped coordinate the MISO volunteer effort as part of an organizational focus on community service work.
“The MISO South team has service in their blood,” says MISO South Vice President Todd Hillman. “MISO is proud to be able to support employees as they give back to the communities where we live and work.”
With each can of green beans or box of assorted food goods sorted, volunteers helped chip away at hunger.
“In 2016, we were able to distribute 25 million pounds of food through the support of our partner organizations and our wonderful volunteers,” Moody says. “That adds up to about 57,000 meals a day.”
The food flowing through this center also helps supply after-school and summer feeding programs that reach some of the state’s most under-privileged residents.
“It is easy to get comfortable when you always have food and other necessities,” notes MISO South facility manager Scott Worth. “Those who are more fortunate often forget that there are many who don’t know where that next meal is coming from. It feels good to support an organization that is making a tangible difference every day.”
To learn more about this hunger-relief organization, visit Arkansas Foodbank.