PINE BLUFF, Ark — The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office will be distributing meals off and on throughout the year for those in need as a collaborative effort to tackle food insecurity for the area.
The agency partnered with AT&T's “Believe Arkansas” initiative focused on the most hunger-challenged populations across the state of Arkansas. They're given monthly "patrol packs" by the Arkansas Food Bank to distribute to people and families.
"AT&T contacted the Sheriff and asked if we would partner with them in distributing as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Capt. Mark Harper with the office, "We have partnered with the ministers of churches and officials to get a list of people that are in need."
Deputy Bradley Shell distributed the patrol packs for the first time Monday afternoon.
"I mean, I feel great. Like I said, the reason that I joined the police force is you know, to help the community out," said Shell.
The Patrol Packs include items like canned goods, fruit, packaged meals like macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper, and juice boxes.
Harper said that this year has been hard for everyone and that it's okay to ask for help.
"There are some people in need, but they don't want to ask for help. So, a lot of times we've gotten names from friends of the people and just delivered the bags and left them on their porch with a note that says, 'Everybody needs help,'" said Harper.
There are no exact delivery times. Deputies will make their way to locations while on their routine patrol.
"My deputies are happy to do it. I'm having them carry some of them in their cars because a lot of times you'll come in contact with the public on a call or some situation to where you see [someone needing] some help, and they'll give them a bag."
Anyone who's in need or knows someone who's in need can email the sheriff's office at email@example.com or call (870) 329-5638 to have their names added to their distribution list.
Please include your name and address in the email so deputies on patrol know where to deliver the Patrol Pack.