With operations in full swing since late 1990, Cooperative Emergency Outreach volunteers have worked tirelessly not only providing for those with food insecurity, but assisting with other needs such as utilities, transportation, clothing, rent and prescriptions.
In February, CEO was named one of two Agencies of the Year by the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. CEO received a $1,000 grant that was used recently to replenish its food pantry. The organization is supported by 22 churches in southern Washington County and serves residents from those communities – Fayetteville, Cane Hill, Elkins, Farmington, Greenland, Goshen, Lincoln, Prairie Grove, Summers, West Fork and Winslow.
Originally housed in the old Washington County Jail, it moved three years later to a building on Rock Street near the Fayetteville Public Library. It moved to its current location in August 2013 and doubled in size. Thanks to a capital campaign and generous donations, the building was paid for in two years, said Maxine LeBlanc, assistant food room manager and lead daily manager.With no paid staff, CEO relies on its 150 volunteers to run the day-to-day operations.
Open from 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, it takes nine to 10 volunteers each day to help meet the needs of its clients.
“We’re here to serve the needs of our clients,” said Michele Del Sol, Food Room coordinator for four years of the five years she has worked at CEO.
In meeting the needs of the food insecure, clients are allowed to receive three days of food up to three times over a six-month period. A grid, based on the family’s size, is used to determine how much food is given. In addition, the daily manager has $750 a day to spend on clothing at thrift stores, utilities, prescriptions and rent assistance. The manager ensures there are funds available for the 25 clients assisted each day. CEO is not a sustaining organization, LeBlanc said. If a family needs further food assistance, they have access to other food pantries in the area, she added.
Each of the participating churches holds two food drives a year, she said, but some of the churches are small, so the drives don’t meet all the needs of CEO. In addition, the annual post office food drive helps. The church members also make monetary donations to CEO as well as supply four volunteers a month, but everyone does more than that, added LeBlanc, a retired school teacher who has worked at CEO since 2002.
However, monetary donations to CEO enable it to purchase a majority of its food from the Food Bank, which supplies approximately 60 percent of CEO’s food needs. The remaining 40 percent comes from other sources, such as the churches. There is always emergency food available, LeBlanc added. There also are meals for the homeless that don’t need to be cooked.
With school almost out for the summer, CEO will see an increase in clients to help supplement the kids being home.“It’s satisfying working to help the poor,” LeBlanc said. “I enjoy helping out. I was brought up that way.” The volunteers are so dedicated and it is wonderful seeing the love from the volunteers, Del Sol added.
For more information, contact CEO at www.ceofayetteville.org or call 479-444-7500.
CEO member churches:
Buckner Baptist, Central United Methodist, Community Christian, East Side Baptist, Emmanuel Lutheran, Farmington United Methodist, Fayetteville Friends (Quakers), First Baptist Farmington, First Baptist Fayetteville, First Baptist West Fork, First Christian Fayetteville, First United Presbyterian, Good Shephard Lutheran, Grace Cumberland Presbyterian, Rolling Hills Baptist, St. John’s Lutheran, St. Joseph’s Catholic, St. Paul’s Episcopal, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic, Sequoyah United Methodist, Southside Baptist and Trinity United Methodist.
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.
NWA Food Bank
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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 .
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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.