Feeding the Need
Many of our partners across central and southern Arkansas provide more than food assistance alone, and Soul Food Cafe Mission is one of these. This invaluable community resource serves its neighbors in many ways – food, clothing, shelter and a sense of belonging. Located in Conway, Arkansas, the mission meets local needs with Rick and Tracy Harvey leading the charge. On a typical Tuesday, during the Mission’s weekly distributions, you’ll find both of them hard at work doing whatever needs to be done while sharing stories and smiles with volunteers or visitors in need of help.
Foodbank staff had the special opportunity to attend one of these Tuesday distributions and visited with volunteers and local neighbors in line to receive food. With a line of cars snaking around the building, the distribution began promptly at 12:30 p.m.
Sense of Belonging
Farmer John, as the folks at the mission would call him, shows up most every week for a box of food. He would tell you that he wears ridiculously big hats to make people laugh. But behind the seemingly jovial exterior, there’s a long list of hardships that John has faced in his past. He’s no longer in contact with his family, which he would say makes for a lonely life. And in his early thirties, he was in an accident that left permanent damage to his brain making it hard to hold a job. For him, showing up every Tuesday at the mission, whether it’s to volunteer or receive a box of food, is about more than filling his or his neighbors cabinets – it’s about coming to a place where he’s seen a human being, the camaraderie and the sense of belonging.
Relationships are Key
Behind this incredible operation is a network of local relationships. By working with the Foodbank, Soul Food Cafe Mission is able to request specific food products to fill shelves and bags that will sustain families in the surrounding neighborhoods. By partnering with local Walmart locations, the Mission also receives donations of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy – food items that are often too expensive to purchase outright. In tandem, these partnerships support the important work of ensuring those experiencing hunger have enough food to eat.
As we walked through the lines of cars, we met people who were returning clients or there for the first time. Many of them shared heartfelt words of thanks. Without the services of the Mission and the partners that help support their work, these people wouldn’t have been able to feed their families. They wouldn’t have been able to pay their bills.
Wave of Relief
Story after story conveyed deep gratitude for the work of the Mission and the “no questions asked” mentality of the Harveys and their staff of volunteers. Almost every visitor we spoke with shared some version of the same story: the hope and sense of relief that washed over them the minute they rounded the corner and entered the parking lot.
In fact, Rick and Tracy Harvey feel very strongly about serving whoever is willing to reach out for help. “We’re certain that the reason we’re here is to help our neighbors in need,” explained Rick. “To love them with no questions asked. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t experiencing incredible struggles and it’s our job to use the resources at our fingertips to provide for them.”
How You Can Help
When you support Fight Hunger. Spark Change. you’re ensuring that local families have food to put on their tables. You’re investing in a system that works tirelessly to ensure local pantries and volunteers have the resources they need to win the fight against hunger in local communities. Visit Walmart.com/fighthunger to learn more about how you can add your support.
Food insecurity is an issue in every community, and everyone can help their neighbors who need it most through the “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” campaign.
When everyone works together, life gets better, communities become stronger, and real and lasting change can be made. Customers and members can help people facing hunger in our community when they participate in the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign in the following ways:
- Donate at check-out in stores and clubs, or at either www.FeedingAmerica.org/Walmart or www.FeedingAmerica.org/SamsClub.
- Round-up at check-out on Walmart.com and the Walmart app.
- For every participating product purchased in store or online at Walmart.com or SamsClub.com, the supplier will donate the monetary equivalent of at least one meal ($0.10) on behalf of a Feeding America member food bank at Walmart and five meals ($0.50) at Sam’s Club, up to applicable limits. See specially marked packages for full details.