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Arkansas food pantries prepare to stock up for the holidays

Over the last few years, food pantries have seen an increase in people coming by for a helping hand. This holiday season they're seeing even more.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Thanksgiving has come and gone— and so has the food on the shelves inside The Watersheds pantry.

“It is a great need that's out there. Not only do we have to do we want to feed people for Thanksgiving and Christmas time, but we have to feed them after Christmas,” said Fred Hokes, Director of Employment Services.

He said that they're hoping to get shelves restocked in time for their next distribution happening on December 19, but it's been a challenge.

“We cannot do it without the community jumping in and helping us. Because it does take a village to raise a family and we have families that really need help,” Hokes explained.

He added that making sure they have enough is crucial, especially for kids on their holiday break from school.

“They do need food and do need to be able to have a decent meal,” Hokes said.

The Arkansas Food Bank agreed with Hokes' statement.

“They're losing access to those free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches that they're used to receiving in the school setting,” said Sarah Riffle, Chief Development Officer for the Food Bank.

Riffle explained that they’re working to make sure they're fully stocked and can supply food to pantries they serve across the state.

“They're really looking to us to try and acquire food at the lowest possible amount acquire as much free food as they possibly can to really make up the difference of what they're not able to acquire on their own,” said Riffle.

She added that it’s crucial to make sure there’s enough food at each pantry— especially after seeing an increase in demand this holiday season compared to the last.

“Our food pantries have been reaching out saying, we need additional food, we need additional resources to get us through the holiday season,” said Riffle.

Both agencies are doing what they can to help Arkansans and asking for the community to lend a helping hand too.

“To not only meet the increased need now but to carry us through the first quarter of next year when donations both food and funds really taper off," said Riffle.

“Watershed has been doing this for over 40 years and we hope to be able to continue to do it,” said Hokes.

Both agencies are also accepting food donations that can be dropped off at their facilities.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering or donating at the Food Bank, visit their website here. 

If you would like to learn more about The Watershed, click here.

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