A Letter From Kent

  • By Kent Eikenberry
  • 19 Sep, 2017

A Letter From the President/CEO of NWA Food Bank

Did you ever stop to think how one seemingly minor event could change the entire course of your life? I’ve told this story often, and frankly I never tire of telling it. The quiet wisdom shown by my Dad in this case resonates in so many different settings. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy sharing it with others.


It was a hot Kansas day, the day before I was to head back to Kansas State University for my second year of college. I say second year because of my academic struggles I was still classified a freshman. No one ever said I had to go to class, but that is another story for another time.


Anyway, after a long day of driving the tractor, dad and I were headed back to town. I had practiced my speech all day as I drove back and forth across that field. Dad, I said, “I’ve given this a lot of thought. I don’t think I will go back to school tomorrow. I don’t know what I want to do with my life, I have a good job and I think I would like to lay out for a semester, work, decide what I want to do and avoid piling up unnecessary debt.”


With the confidence of a 19 year old, I thought I sold it well. Dad didn’t look over at me, never took his eyes off the road and calmly said, “You’re fired. Now that you don’t have a job, you just as well should head back to college in the morning.”


That one simple act, one simple statement changed my life forever.


I’d love to say it motivated me to go back to college and excel in the classroom but it didn’t. I continued to struggle with the concept of going to class, but that is another story for another time. I did go back to college and a few years later through the grace of God, a few teachers who felt sorry for me and a beautiful young lady who convinced me going to class was required, I did graduate.


I’m not going to lie to you. There were times in our early married life that Diana and I struggled to pay all the bills. But we were never forced to make a decision between food and rent, or food and electricity, or food and fill in the blank.


I thank Dad for that simple statement in the summer of 1973 for that. The education I received put me in a position to compete for jobs that allowed me to provide for my family. Who knew how my life would have been different if he would have said OK fine, stay and drive the tractor a living.


I guess now is the time where I bring this all back around to tie it in to the Food Bank. Everyday there are more than 70,000 of your neighbors struggling to make those decisions on how best to spend their money. Our most recent research says that more than 60 percent of the food insecure in our area going to food pantries are employed.


The face of hunger in our area may not be the face that you think it is. The Food Bank and our partner food pantries and feeding services work hard every day to help those who need it. I thank you for joining us in this effort and remind you that for one different decision, all of us could be struggling to make those decisions.


We are truly blessed in northwest Arkansas to have a wealth of talent. “Stars” are recruited from all over the world to come work at any one of our local companies. People move in every day. But sometimes we forget about the ones we lose. The ones who move out.


The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank lost one of our stars this week when board member Amanda Coussoule accepted a new job and moved to Wisconsin. Amanda leaves each of us sad, but better to have worked with her. I know this star will shine brightly in Wisconsin and make it a little better place to live.


Our Jewels of Giving Gala is 9 weeks from tonight. It is coming together nicely, with new silent auction items being donated daily and several exciting live auction items in place. Sponsorships and individual tickets are available. If you are interested in finding out more about attending or donating to the silent auction give us a call here at the Food Bank and we will fix you up.


Thank you all for your continued support of the Food Bank and have a great fall.


Because of you someone will eat today.




By Tom A. Throne 19 Oct, 2017
In September, the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank distributed food to its allied agencies to serve 1,040,858 meals to those with food insecurities in the four-county area of Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington.
By Tom A. Throne 19 Oct, 2017
Seven employees from the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank had a volunteer day on Sept 24 at the Cooperative Emergency Outreach in Fayetteville.
By Jordan Gershon 19 Oct, 2017

On September 29th, 2015, my world was turned upside down with my diagnosis of type one diabetes. Type one diabetes is when the beta cells in your pancreas stop producing insulin. There are a variety of different insulin therapies that someone can use to help manage their blood sugar, but there is currently no cure.

In August of 2016, I began to really embrace and accept this disease. I became a volunteer with the local Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and attended a family camp for type one diabetics and their family. Thanks to JDRF, this camp brought 400 families together who were affected by T1D and allowed them to connect and bond while engaging in fun activities, participating in a diabetic vendor fair, attending informational sessions and benefitting from $400,00 worth of donated insulin and supplies.  

In the fall of 2016, I participated in my first JDRF One Walk. The walk raised over $280,000 to work on continuing diabetic technology and research for a cure. I was blown away by how dedicated these group of warriors and their families were into working together to find a cure. I have met the strongest and kindest families, adults, parents and children who deal with this disease or have a loved one who does, every day.

In the spring of 2017, I had the pleasure of interning for JDRF and helping them with their gala. During this time, I became a JDRF youth ambassador for the organization and helped with their annual gala.

Because of my involvement in JDRF, I was able to learn more about technologies that I could benefit from. I learned about the various pumps that were available and the use of a continuous blood glucose monitor. I am currently on an omnipod and a dexcom. An omnipod is a wireless pump that allows me to give myself insulin through a technological personal diabetes manager. A dexcom is a glucose monitor that through an inserted sensor in my skin monitors my blood sugars every 5 minutes and relays the information through an app on my phone. These devices have helped to make my life as a diabetic so much easier and normalizing.

This disease is a 24/7 job that consists of blood, sweat, tears, highs and lows. I am hopeful that due to JDRF, a cure will be found. In 2012, the artificial pancreas was supposed to be released in the next 10-15 years. Here we are, only 5 years out, and the artificial pancreas is set to be released within the next year. This is a direct result of JDRF and their dedication towards finding a cure.


Jordan Gershon

Development Intern

NWA Food Bank

By Kent Eikenberry 19 Oct, 2017

I received this text the other day from a close friend in Canada. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.


                  “Recently in England…A 46-year-old tin of soup and a 35-year-old can of sweet corn have been donated to a food bank. The “Ready to Serve” Heinz kidney soup still bears its original pricing sticker reading 10d (ten pence) meaning it was sold before decimalization in 1971. Helen Bull of Cardiff Foodbank, where the tins were handed in, has reminded members of the public to check sell-by dates when clearing out old cupboards.”

 You have heard me say several times how blessed Diana and I are to have all three of our sons and all four of our grandchildren live in Fayetteville. Having them live so close affords us the opportunity to spend a lot of time together as well as working on projects together. I want to bring your attention to one such project. Joel and I are building and donating slat chairs to the Jewels of Giving silent auction. They are a hybrid Adirondack chair/Park Bench and if I do say so myself will be a high interest item at the silent auction. We are grateful to White River Hardwoods for donating the wood to build these chairs, which at this point is cut, sanded, stained and ready to put together. I’ve seen a lot of similarities in our work style, however Joel is even pickier than I am so I do not anticipate there ever being an Eikenberry and sons furniture making business.

 Speaking of the Jewels of Giving Gala, it is just around the corner. If you haven’t bought your sponsorship, your table or your individual tickets yet, I urge you to do it soon. As you know, every dollar allows us to provide 11 meals for the food insecure of our area. Your support not only allows you to have a great evening, but truly you can say because of me someone will eat today. Thank you in advance for your participation.

 I want to give a shout out to our friends at Spectrum Brands for coordinating the second annual Competitive Food Drive between several of the area supplier companies. This friendly competition for the “Spectrum Cup” allows companies to have internal food drives benefiting the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. Last year over 17,000 pounds of food was collected. With at least 15 different companies (with the list still growing) that total poundage is sure to go up. I’ve heard the smack talk between at least two companies about who is going to win. This competition will take place in November with the winner being announced December 7. A mid-point update will be given at the Jewels of Giving Gala. A special thank you to Daniel Boone and Kenneth Medlin of Spectrum Brands for making this happen and bringing more awareness to the issue of food insecurity in our area.

 Thank you to all who participated in Hunger Action Month in one fashion or another. Whether you contributed on line to the Fill Their Shelves campaign, or dined out at a participating partner restaurant you helped make a difference. I want to extend a special thank you to each of our staff members who in one way or another brought these new ideas to fruition.

 Is your business or community organization looking to learn more about the Food Bank and what we do? We have several staff members willing and eager to speak to groups about Food insecurity in our area and how we can work together to fight it. Please feel free to call me at 479-872-8774 or email me at kent@nwafoodbank.org and I will get your group on the calendar. We would also love to have your group come and tour our facilities here in Bethel Heights. First time visitors are amazed at the amount of food in the warehouse and the amount of food we distribute every day.

 It is hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner. Santa Pops (that’s me in case you were wondering) has started his shopping, mostly for the Eikenbabies at this point, but at least I have started. As I go about this task, I am mindful of the thousands of our neighbors who need our help now more than any other time of the year. There is naturally a lot of stress surrounding the holidays. Feeding your family should not be one of those stressors. You can help us put food into the hands of those who need it. As the year is winding down, please consider a tax-deductible year-end gift to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. We will turn that gift into food for those who need our help. Because of you, someone will eat today.


Thank you for your continued support.


By Tom A. Throne 19 Oct, 2017

Smithfield Foods and its Helping Hungry Homes initiative, a program that focuses on alleviating hunger and helping Americans become more food secure, joined forces on Oct. 5 with Wal-Mart to donate more than 37,000 pounds of protein to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. 

The donation, equivalent to more than 150,000 servings, will help those fighting hunger across Northwest Arkansas, where one in four individuals are food insecure.

“We are very excited to receive this protein from Smithfield,” Mike Williams, director of development said. “Protein is a critical donation to the Food Bank. Families plan their meals around protein.”

Smithfield’s donation will go to agencies who will in turn will distribute it to those with food insecurities to plan their meals around, he added. So far this year, Smithfield has donated more than 130,000 pounds of protein to the Food Bank.

Williams pointed out that through the years that Walmart has donated more than 4 million pounds of food to the Food Bank. Walmart is making it happen with food and volunteers.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Smithfield Foods and the Helping Hungry Homes team for the fourth time this year,” said Kent Eikenberry, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. “With today’s donation, we’ve received more than 550,000 servings of Smithfield protein that allows us to better provide the area we serve with food assistance. It’s an unbelievable amount of support that we couldn’t appreciate more.”

Smithfield and Wal-Mart representatives presented the donation to Northwest Arkansas Food Bank at an event that raised awareness of hunger’s impact in the local community. Members from all three organizations discussed the significance of protein donations in helping the 70,000 individuals who face hunger in Northwest Arkansas. Attendees enjoyed the event with Smithfield fresh pork samples prepared by local restaurant owner, Jordan Poole, of Big Rub BBQ and a special guest appearance from world-champion pitmaster, Darren Warth of Iowa’s Smokey D’s.

Smithfield’s donation to Northwest Arkansas Food Bank was a part of the Helping Hungry Homes 2017 nationwide donation tour. Throughout the annual tour, Smithfield will provide large-scale protein donations to nearly 60 food banks across the country.

“Smithfield is honored to be back in Northwest Arkansas to offer the community our continued support,” said Dennis Pittman, senior director of hunger relief for Smithfield Foods. “As a global food company, we value our responsibility to respond to those in need of hunger relief with nutritious protein. Our fourth visit to Lowell this year puts us one donation closer to our goal of ending hunger across the country.”

Walmart spokesman Molly Blakeman said Walmart was proud of Smithfield for what they are doing across the nation and in Northwest Arkansas.

For more information about Helping Hungry Homes® and a list of upcoming donation events, visit helpinghungryhomes.com .

By Tom A. Throne 19 Oct, 2017

Sponsorships are still available for the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank’s Ninth Annual Jewels of Giving Gala, which is the major fundraiser for the Food Bank. The event will be Friday, Nov. 17, at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers.

“Sponsors help underwrite the expenses to host the event,” said Mike Williams, director of development. “The more sponsorship we have the less funds from the auction and attendee’s donations go toward expenses.

Those interested in helping sponsor the Gala should contact Williams at mike.williams@nwafoodbank.org.

The doors for the Gala will open for VIPs at 6 p.m. and for the general public at 7 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m. DJ Brock from Brock Entertainment will be providing the musical entertainment.

There will be live and silent auctions carried out during the Gala.

VIP tickets are $250 each and individual tickets are $125. Tables of 10 people are $1,250. Black tie is optional.

The goal for 2017, with your support, is to provide more than 1.8 million meals for the food insecure in Northwest Arkansas.

For more information about the Gala or to purchase tickets, go to www.nwafoodbank.org/jewels-of-giving-gala .

The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank serves more than 150 food pantries and agencies in a four-county area – Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington.

By Tom A. Throne 19 Sep, 2017

The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank loaded and shipped a semi-truck load of Tyson protein on Aug. 31 to the Central Texas Food Bank in Austin, Texas.

The 28,000-pound load will be staged out of the Central Texas Food Bank and used to support feeding efforts for the Coast line evacuees as well as the food insecure residents of the Central Texas service area. The Central Texas Food Bank serves 21 counties in Central Texas.

“I wanted to reach out to you to applaud your generosity! The protein you have donated to CTFB has played a critical role in our ongoing battle to secure such a highly demanded product,” said Heath Ribordy, Director of Agency Services, Central Texas Food Bank. “Please let us know what more we can do to support the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.”

“We are blessed to have a wonderful working relationship with Tyson, and are excited to share our blessings with our fellow Feeding America Food Banks whenever possible,” said Kent Eikenberry, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. “This emergency relief effort is just another example of the type of collaborative effort shown by northwest Arkansans when facing a problem”

Eikenberry went on to add that as the water begins to recede and other Food Banks in Texas need assistance, more loads will be sent to support their recovery.

The NWA Food Bank was founded in 1988 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to serve four Northwest Arkansas counties – Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington -- by providing an affordable and credible food source to our partner agencies serving the hungry. The NWA Food Bank partners with more than 150 agencies ranging from food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and many more. In 2016, it distributed more than 11.4 million pounds of food.

By Travis Sorensen 19 Sep, 2017
Above, Travis Sorensen and his sister, Whitney Lumpkin, the Pre-K Family Services Manager at Owl Creek Elementary in Fayetteville, prior to the Pre-K Family Fun Night
By Tom A. Throne 19 Sep, 2017

While many may think volunteering opportunities at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank are confined to simpler tasks, there are unique skills-based opportunities for volunteers hoping to leverage the strengths to further the Food Bank’s mission.

Skilled-based volunteers can put their work experiences to good use by performing tasks that are critical to the Food Bank’s operations.

“Skills-based volunteering is a great opportunity for volunteers who want to help the Food Bank in their area of expertise,” said Mike Williams, director of development.

For example, someone who enjoys working on computers and data would find opportunities to work in data entry at the Food Bank, he said. Or a CPA could come in once a month and help strengthen financial controls and operations.

There are also opportunities for volunteers to go with drivers to help with loading and unloading products that assist those who are food insecure, said Carrie Harlow, COO at the Food Bank.

Someone who is involved in logistics could help come up with ideas to work better and faster, she added.

There also are opportunities for those in sales and marketing to work with sponsors and fundraising, as well as compliance and safety inspections, Williams said.

For more information, contact Trina Wilson, volunteer coordinator at the Food Bank, at trina.wilson@nwafoodbank.org .

By Tom A. Throne 19 Sep, 2017

Above, Officials from Smithfield Foods, Walmart and the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank help unload a truck containing 35,000 pounds of protein on Aug. 10 that was donated by Smithfield and Walmart.

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