LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (May 26, 2015) – A $40,000 grant from The
United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas will fund the purchase of a vehicle to
begin a mobile food pantry ministry serving students at ASU Beebe, ASU Marked
Tree, and ASU Newport, along with supplementing a backpack food program for elementary
and middle school students in Harrisburg.
“We believe this innovative ministry will make a huge
difference for students at two-year colleges in east Arkansas and could be a
pilot for other hunger initiatives,” said Jim Argue, Jr., UMFA President and
CEO. “In addition, a mobile food pantry is a good way for local United
Methodist churches to start a relationship with the students at these
This ministry began as a conversation between Rev. Clark
Atkins, Senior Pastor of First UMC, Harrisburg, and Rev. Samantha Meadors of
the Arkansas State University Wesley Foundation about the need for two-year
college outreach. Students at two-year colleges are often non-traditional in
age, they are not residential and they sometimes have two or three jobs at the
same time they attend college.
“Many of them are just getting by,” Rev. Atkins said. “The mobile
food pantry can be the initial connection with these students and help foster
deeper relationships. We are grateful to The UMFA for the grant that will make
it possible to transport food to the campuses.”
Rev. Meadors and Rev. Atkins have worked with pastors at
local churches near each of the two-year colleges to ensure that they will be
involved. Rev. Meadors has secured student volunteers from Arkansas State who
will operate the mobile food pantry one week a month at each of the four venues.
The next step is working with the administration of each two-year college.
“We’ve had the Bread of Life Food Pantry at Harrisburg First
UMC for several years, so we bring the expertise in obtaining and organizing
the food for this new ministry,” said Rev. Atkins. The Northeast District is
helping with a portion of costs for the first semester of operation and he and
Rev. Meadors are working on additional fundraising.
The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas manages $135
million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local
churches and other United Methodist ministries. UMFA is one of the largest
United Methodist Foundations in the country. Founded in 1963, UMFA is responsible
for over 750 funds that support United Methodist ministries.