Client-Choice Pantry a new way to fight food insecurity

By: Jennifer Brown

For the most part, people involved in the local schools look forward to summer – swimming at the pool, heading to camp, enjoying time off, or simply having a change in routine. Yet summer also can be a time of concern for families and kids who may not have enough food.

To help meet the needs of the community, The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas partnered with the Fayetteville Public Schools and others to identify and provide meals to kids who may have been receiving free or reduced-price meals at school, and who faced going hungry during the summer break.

The Salvation Army Client-Choice Food Pantry in Fayetteville officially opened for business Friday, June 1, in an activity building of the Northwest Arkansas Command. Families that signed up through the school district can “shop” the pantry, at no cost, every Friday for 11 weeks while school is not in session.

On May 31, a ribbon-cutting was held to celebrate the facility’s opening.

“We are excited to begin providing food for families in this way,” said Captain Josh Robinett, Northwest Arkansas area commander.

“Often families are given a box of food, but the items inside may not fit their needs in the best way,” Captain Robinett said. “By opening a client-choice food pantry, we are giving families dignity and caring for their needs on a more individualized basis. This helps us love and care for the people of our community even more.”

The pantry is open every Friday through August, stocked with food options kids and families can easily prepare for breakfast and lunch.

The project would not have been possible without the support of the Walmart Foundation, NWA Food Bank, Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, Fayetteville schools and many volunteers.

During the three months leading up to the pantry’s opening, the team worked to create the new shopping space – remodeling the warehouse area of the Activity Center; installing refrigerated coolers, lighting and shelving; and stocking food products, which will be added to through the summer.

Jennifer Brown is the public relations and volunteer coordinator for the Northwest Arkansas Area Command.