The ASU food pantry and Walmart team up to provide more to campus community
Delta Digital News Service
Friday, Dec. 1, 2023
By Avery Jones | Editor
Recently, the Jonesboro Walmart on Highland has been donating to the food pantry on the Arkansas State University Jonesboro campus. The partnership was arranged by Every Child Is Ours, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Tuckerman.
Use of the food pantry is available to anyone with an ASU ID–student, faculty, or otherwise. With the large number of people in need, it can be difficult to keep up with demand, according to Jameson Archer, an ASU student and the president of the volunteer council.
Every year, the food pantry serves 3,000 to 4,000 students and employees. In July of last year, they served 700 people. Usually during summer break, that number would be around 200 since most students are off-campus at that time, so the demand has seemingly increased.
“There are a lot of times where they’re really having to strap to get people food,” said Dean MacDonald, a graduate student at ASU who also works with Every Child Is Ours.
Over the summer of this year, they started developing the idea of Walmart donating to the food pantry. The pantry was in need of volunteers since most students had left for the summer. Raven Person, who works in Student Affairs, started volunteering there.
According to Person, she and Bekah Herring, the assistant director of Career Development who also manages the food pantry, started discussing the need for donations. Herring said that almost all of the pantry’s resources come from individual donations.
Both MacDonald and Person personally know Jan Paschal, the owner of Every Child Is Ours. Along with another student, a history major named Alandria Maddox, they set up a meeting with her on June 2 at the ECIO food pantry to discuss what they could do for the community.
Maddox works as an ambassador for Every Child Is Ours. She brings awareness to the cause and helps Paschal whenever she’s needed. She’s been working with them since May when she was introduced to Paschal by Person.
According to Maddox, Person came up with the idea that Walmart might donate to the food pantry on campus. Paschal had collaborated with Walmart before on other projects, and Walmart also often donates to similar causes.
“A lot of hard work was done by Dr. Hogue, Dean, Raven, and Mrs. Jan,” Maddox said.
Paschal said at the meeting that Walmart wanted to donate to ECIO, but it would be better if the donations went to ASU instead. Paschal contacted an executive at Walmart, Carolyn Hembrey, to set it up.
Hembrey said that she has worked with Paschal many times. She approved the new project and helped to coordinate times for when the volunteers come to pick up the donations.
“I just did not realize that there was a need. I guess we just assume if they’re going to college, they must have the funds to eat, and I was just like floored at the need that there was…” Hembrey said. “I’ve really been encouraged by the participation from the volunteers and just the excitement that they’ve had about the project also.”
The donations occur once weekly. They consist of canned items and other preserved food but also fresh food, such as vegetables, fruit, meat, and dairy. These donations offer a bigger variety than what the food pantry is usually able to provide.
“It’s widened our variety,” said Archer. “It’s always nice because we’re serving so many people, it just gives us something else that we don’t have to personally buy.”
Note: Feature photo shows volunteers at the food pantry.
Walmart donates to food pantry on ASU campus. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council