Manila Food Pantry reaching out to the community
Angie and Aaron Master of Manila saw a need for a food pantry in Manila and with the help of local Scouts, churches, Manila School, school organizations and individuals, Manila Food Pantry became a reality. It is located at 217 Concord Street, Suite 2. The pantry is open on Tuesdays from noon until 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m.
Too many people are not aware that 18.8 percent of Arkansans live below the poverty line. One in five Arkansans are food insecure.
"We are tied with Mississippi for being the number one food insecure state in the nation," Angie said.
The Manila Food Pantry recently partnered with the Arkansas Rice Depot which helps get more food to share with the citizens in the Manila area. They are also working on approval by the Food Bank of NEA which will also be a help to the program.
The mission was to reach 2012 in 2012 and with their summer sack lunch program, they exceeded their goal thanks to the volunteers and the community efforts.
"This became a reality because of the community, organizations and individuals who have worked with us making it happen," Angie said.
Several volunteers help with the food pantry.
Manila elementary faculty, students, parents, and members of the parent/teacher organization held food drives and collected over 1,300 cans of food last year and are doing it again this year. Teresa Thomas Eastin, counselor, and Dale Case, principal, have been very helpful with the food drive.
Paula Poag's Sunday School Class, S&K Daycare/daycare parents, and several people in the community donated sandwiches, chips, drinks and breakfast items three days a week during the summer. Meals were delivered to the homes of approximately 30 children.
Delivering sack lunches were Ruth Ann Barnhart, Vicki and Donald Master, Sarah and Matt Robinson, Katie Master, Sandra Hicks, Danielle, Dru Ann and Trey Hicks. Others who provided drinks, sandwiches, snacks or donations for the children are Frank and Yvonne Hernandez, David and Penny Hutton, Erica Adams, Debbie Finley, Jessica and Woody Nunnally. Many others provided money for Sonic meals on the last day of program. Sonic also assisted with meals.
"SouthBank and Linda Smith with Dollar General continue to have food drives for us on regular basis," Mrs. Master said. "The Boy Scouts and Venturing Crew of Troop 32 have held food drives for us and have made the food pantry their service project. We appreciate Farmers Market for allowing them to have the food drives there. Betsy Benson, our "neighbor" at The Mirage, has helped on several occasions to provide food to those in need. Also, we have an anonymous generous donor who gives a gift each month.
"Sarah Robinson, Sandra Hicks and Charles Wells have given many hours to this ministry. Cathy Despain and Ron Straube have started volunteering at the pantry.
"Last but certainly not least, God provides and we are so thankful for this! There were days we ran out of food and did not know what we were going to do, but it always seemed to work out the next week. If anyone would like to donate or volunteer time, please come by the food pantry or call 870-278-2870. We would love to work or partner with churches, youth groups and organizations. We want this to be a community project."
"I am so thankful for all of these people who helped us achieve our goal of serving 2012 in 2012. Each one is a Hunger Hero," Master said.
The Food Pantry provided Thanksgiving boxes in 2012.
The Manila Food Pantry is also taking part in the coat drop project and persons having a gently worn coat to donate can drop it off at the food pantry or Manila School.
"If the pantry is not open, coats can be dropped off at the Mirage and Ms. Betsy will make sure we get them," Angie said.