One of Northwest Arkansas largest employers recently donated $225,000 to the Center for Community Engagement and the Volunteer Action Center at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
The gift from Tyson Foods Inc. will primarily support expansion of the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry and the Razorback Food Recovery program, two student volunteer projects. Along with a previous $35,000 grant from Tyson Foods, the funds also will be used to create a food-assistance mentoring program, so that University of Arkansas students can share their experiences and help other colleges and universities start their own pantries and food recovery projects.
Thanks to the donation, the Center for Community Engagement will have the opportunity to host a national conference on food insecurity and campus-based food assistance programs in 2016. Tyson Foods has a long history of helping fight hunger on local and national levels, and there's more information about the company's overall hunger relief effort at this link.
In fact, other Northwest Arkansas companies provide support to hunger relief efforts and programs, including Walmart.
“This grant from Tyson Foods will allow the University of Arkansas to create a national mentoring program that will allow other university campuses to create their own programs,” said Angela Oxford, director for the Center for Community Engagement. “We are very appreciative to Tyson Foods for investing in these student-led projects and helping us spread awareness about food insecurity and food recovery.”
The Full Circle Campus Food Pantry and Razorback Food Recovery program work together to provide food assistance on campus and in Northwest Arkansas. The pantry was founded in 2011 by students who became aware of the struggles that some of their peers experienced, and it has grown from serving 12 people in its first month to serving an average of 200 students, staff, faculty and their households each week.
Students who wanted to address the issues of food waste and hunger in the community created the Razorback Food Recovery program this spring. Volunteers work with the staff of Chartwells, the food provider for the UA campus, to recover safe, wholesome food from dining facilities, retail facilities and various special events and provide that food to hunger relief agencies in the Fayetteville area.
“In the first seven months of the program, we have seen over 20,000 pounds of food recovered, which equates to over 16,000 meals,” Oxford said.