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Walmart Foundation gift provides for food recovery and pantry expansions



FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to provide program expansion for the pantry and its sister program, Razorback Food Recovery.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, these food programs have become increasingly important in serving the campus and Northwest Arkansas communities and will now have the opportunity to expand their offerings.

“I am very proud of the staff and students who continue to expand upon the efforts to address food insecurity for our campus and local community. I am also very grateful to the Walmart Foundation for its generosity. Now, we will be able to better facilitate the Center of Community Engagement’s mission of empowering students to become engaged citizens through service, experiential learning and practicing social value,” said Charles Robinson, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“This grant is especially exciting, because it will increase our capacity to grow,” said Sage McCoy, food programs coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement. “Our staff is small but mighty, and our students’ dreams for our programs are even mightier.”

The Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry is a student-led emergency food assistance program, striving to serve clients with balanced meals through non-perishables and fresh produce from its own garden. Full Circle serves anyone with an ID from the U of A or the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and their households: students, staff, faculty, and temporary or hourly employees.

Thanks to the grant from Walmart Foundation, the Full Circle Food Pantry will be able to expand its SNAP education, outreach and assistance, as well as increase equitable access to its resources for the campus and regional communities.

Razorback Food Recovery is a student-led, sustainability-focused food waste reduction program that recovers prepared, unserved food from on-campus sources and redistributes the food to local agencies around the Fayetteville area.

Since it was established in 2014, the program has recovered and redistributed more than 250,000 pounds of food. With this new grant funding, the program will be able to expand its efforts by building a successful relationship with the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank and a neighborhood market; creating volunteer opportunities and student leadership roles to manage the pick-up, sorting and distribution of goods; and improving access to nutritious foods.

“This funding will allow us to bring in four AmeriCorps VISTAs, who will give us the time and space to really dive deep into the potential of our programs,” McCoy said. “We will be able to increase accessibility to the services we currently offer while expanding and reimagining ways to get assistance to current and potential clients. Bringing new team members dedicated to a year of capacity building will allow us to explore, create and innovate, while keeping in mind our missions of combating food insecurity and decreasing food waste.”