The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank makes a huge difference in the lives of hungry people here in our region. They Jewels of Giving Gala is the non-profit’s main fundraiser for the year. We asked Melissa Vest, director of development, to share more about the food bank and the gala.
Who does the NWA Food Bank serve?
The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank works with over 160 partner agencies in Northwest Arkansas to feed people in need. Our partner agencies include shelters, food pantries, churches, senior centers, afterschool programs, and other human service agencies. Last year we served over 450,000 people in our area, and we distributed over 5.3 million pounds of food.
How prevalent is hunger in Northwest Arkansas?
Arkansas has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation. Typically we are in the top ten of food insecurity rates, which is not where we want to be. In Northwest Arkansas we have a high rate of hunger. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 people experience food insecurity every week here in NWA.
How is the food distributed?
The Food Bank is a big warehouse, which is about 22,000 square feet. We get food in bulk, and then distribute it to our partner agencies. Each agency gets a thirty minute appointment to come and get the food during the week. Agencies are booked from 7:00 to 3:30 Monday through Friday. The agencies and food pantries then take the food and distribute it to individuals in need.
How can the community help?
We are so proud of all of our community partners who help us continue to fight hunger here in NWA. In general people can host a food drive with their office or school, or even in their neighborhood. We have a Food Drive page on our website with a sign up form with an easy to follow step by step guide. (Click here for a variety of ways to help, including garden produce drives and share your lunch money fundraisers.)
Local companies can also help by donating product in bulk or by signing up to sponsor the Food Bank. We also have our annual Jewels of Giving Gala coming up on November 16. The tickets are $100, and the proceeds from the event benefit the Food Bank.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming Jewels of Giving Gala event?
The Jewels of Giving Gala is presented by Hillshire Brands, and will be co-hosted by Pam Kohn, EVP Merchandise Services, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and Tim Yatsko, SVP Replenishment and Planning, Sam’s Club.
The Gala is black tie optional, and will be held at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. Attendees will enjoy dinner, dancing, live music by LaFuSo, and a silent auction. Tickets are $100 and tables are $800 for a table of 8. The Gala is our main fundraiser for the year.
We read that 1 ticket ($100) equals 500 meals. Is that right?
Yes! This is because of our purchasing power, and also that we buy in bulk quantity. So, for instance, for 1 ticket to the gala ($100) that’s the equivalent of 500 meals for people in need right here in Northwest Arkansas!