TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – September is Hunger Action Month, a time each year when Harvest Regional Food Bank in Texarkana brings awareness to food insecurity in the 10-county area they serve.
But this year, thanks to the pandemic that has cost people their jobs, their health and even their lives, the needs are greater than ever.
“We’ve served a lot of people for the first time that never thought they would need hunger assistance or a food bank that has come through our mobile pantries just since the COVID-19 crisis began,” said Camile Wrinkle, executive director of Harvest Regional Food Bank.
Wrinkle said food insecurity has increased significantly during the pandemic. About 60,000 people in Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas are struggling with hunger.
“Families we’ve served and the amount of food that we have distributed has more than doubled over the past six months,” Wrinkle said.
Every September, Harvest Regional Food Bank joins local businesses to inform the community about hunger in the Texarkana area. This year, things look a little different due to the on-going pandemic.
“This year we really haven’t approached those businesses to partner with us to partner for activities during hunger action month because we realize they’re also struggling to get back on their feet,” Wrinkle said.
To continue the community-wide initiatives, Harvest is making their Hunger Action Month events virtual.
“It’s like filling a grocery cart. They can actually click on a case of peas or a case of strawberries and add them to their cart. And it’s just a really neat way to put a picture with the donation they’re making,” Wrinkle said.
She added that the food bank is depending on the community now more than ever. They’re accepting food donations but strongly encourage monetary donations.
“Really put an effort into making sure people know about hunger and the issues of hunger right here in their own communities. Of course, we don’t have to try really hard to do that. I feel like it’s actually been hunger action year,” Wrinkle said.
For a list of food pantries visit the Harvest Regional Food Bank website.