The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana held the official grand opening of the “Iron Horse Pantry” on Monday, December 2, at the Hope campus. The goal of the pantry is to create a hunger-free UAHT campus community.
Last spring, the Office of Student Services conducted surveys among faculty, staff, and students regarding food insecurity on the UAHT campuses. Among those surveyed, over 98% were aware of food insecurity among students, and nearly 80% stated that they would be willing to donate to a food pantry. “With evidence of a need to deal with food insecurity, the UAHT campus leadership and students stepped up to help alleviate the problem,” said Dr. Christopher Smith, Dean of Student Services.
The pantry received a $3,000 donation from the UAHT Foundation to help initiate the efforts, and the UAHT Executive Cabinet approved an additional allocation of funding from student activities to assist in the start-up costs. Students at UAHT collected almost 1,200 food items to donate to the pantry as well. The pantry also partnered with the Harvest Regional Food Bank to purchase food for the pantry. Other foods and personal hygiene items are purchased from area grocery stores.
“Harvest Regional Food Bank is thrilled to partner with UAHT in this mission,” said Camille Wrinkle, Harvest Regional Food Bank Executive Director. “This means a lot to us because we love to help students in their journey to create a better future for themselves and their families. Arkansas is number two in the nation for childhood hunger and overall hunger, so people in our communities are having to choose between education and putting groceries on the table for their kids. It means a lot to us to be able to partner with UAHT to provide both.”
“I’m inspired by the people on our campus and in our community every day,” said Chris Thomason, Chancellor. “The little things these people do to show they care inspires us to be even more committed to our mission to better the lives of the individuals we serve. I want to thank Dr. Smith, the UAHT Student Government Association, the UAHT Foundation, and Harvest Regional Food Bank for their hard work and partnerships in making this a reality.”
The Iron Horse Pantry, housed on the Hope campus, is open to all currently enrolled UAHT students every other Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. An online order form is also available for U of A Texarkana students at the Texarkana campus.
For more information, please contact Dr. Christopher Smith, Dean of Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.