Helping out hunger

Harvest Texarkana Kicks off Hunger Action Month

Story by Nathan Morriss, staff writer

Harvest Texarkana kicked off Hunger Action Month this September. For each day throughout the month, the organization has a theme which offers ways you can help the community through donations and other deeds.

“Hunger Action Month was started by the food banks that make up the Feeding America network, including Harvest Regional Food Bank, as a way to bring awareness to the issue of hunger across the country,” Executive Director Camille Wrinkle said.

There are many days and fundraisers where community members can participate throughout the month.

“Sept. 14 is Volunteer Day at the food bank,” Development Director Taylor Youngblood said. “We’re also having a fundraiser at Chipotle.”

Harvest Texarkana serves and distributes within an area containing multiple counties.

“Our long term goal is to reach as many of the 55,000 food insecure individuals in the areas [we serve] as possible,” Wrinkle said.

Harvest Texarkana is constantly looking for volunteers to help with their numerous initiatives.

We have many volunteer opportunities, and we’re open for that constantly Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m”

— Camille Wrinkle

“We have many volunteer opportunities, and we’re open for that constantly Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m,” Youngblood said. “They can help with the mobile pantry, they can help sort and box up items. We’re starting up our Backpack Program, so they can help make those. Just give us a call and stop by.”

Some food items are in more demand than others, making the need for them even greater.

“We go through a lot of peanut butter. We actually have two peanut butter drives going on right now,” Youngblood said. “Any kid-friendly snack item [is needed] because we have our Backpack Program. Any box dinner items for families, something easy for them to make.”

The Backpack Program is one of the many initiatives set forward by Harvest.

“The Backpack Program includes 35 schools. Teachers get the students to fill out the forms, and they send those in according to their needs,” Youngblood said. “If they have an allergy, we can write that down and accommodate [the food] to the child. We send it back discreetly; while the kids are gone at recess, the teachers put the bag in their backpack, so it doesn’t draw attention to them.”

Harvest Texarkana also hopes to eliminate more than just hunger.

“We’re going more towards addressing the underlying issues of poverty that lead to hunger,” Wrinkle said. “Our long term goal is to not only alleviate hunger right now, but to create a lasting solution.”