LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Saturday before Thanksgiving is usually a busy time for food banks in Central Arkansas— but recent economic challenges felt across the country are now impacting those organizations.
Food pantry leaders still plan on moving forward despite a low number of donations and inflation woes this year.
This is, of course, the season of giving.
"There are people that are in need, people that need help, and people that need food," said Fred Hoakes with The Watershed Family Resource Center.
However, this year will be a challenge for him to help those in need.
"Donations are down severely from what they normally are," Hoakes said.
The rooms where most of the food is stored have been noticeably empty.
"I think donations are down because the economy as a whole is now beginning to sink," Hoakes said.
Nick Scarbrough, Director of The Grove Center, said that they typically rely heavily on donations.
With donations down this year, he's been going the extra mile and buying items for the food bank.
With inflation impacting prices at the stores, you can imagine how hard it is for him to keep the shelves stocked.
"I could go in and get everything for $500 and now, you're going to go in and get everything for $850 to $900," Scarbrough said.
He's also noticed more Arkansas families are experiencing those economical challenges.
"You definitely see those people who maybe weren't even thinking about a pantry a couple of years ago and are now utilizing that pantry," he described.
Despite these difficulties, Scarbrough said that he'll continue to meet the needs of anyone who walks through the doors.
Meanwhile, Hoakes at The Watershed has been gearing up for the annual food box giveaway.
He added that this year, there has been significantly less number of boxes available.
"We only have 125 baskets per day. First come, first serve basis," Hoakes said.
Hoakes explained that he's used to serving 500 boxes per day.
Although he fears that he won't be able to help as many people as he'd like to this Thanksgiving, he remains optimistic that the community will come to help in a big way.
"We know the citizens of Arkansas will open up their hearts and that is what happens because we they always have," Hoakes said.
The Watershed food box giveaway will be held on Monday, November 21, and Tuesday, November 22, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Hoakes added that they are always in need of donations.
He said that anyone wanting to donate can call them at (501) 378-0176 or visit their website here.