$40,000 UMFA Grant Funds Vehicle for Mobile Food Pantry

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 campuses.”  

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.