UA Little Rock gardeners to grow fresh food for Trojan Food Pantry

Pictured from left to right are Amber Mitchell, president of the Campus Garden Alliance, John Poole, Campus Garden Alliance member, Temeka Williams, operations director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Patty Barker, director of the Arkansas No Kids Hungry Campaign, Stephen Grace, professor of biology and Campus Garden Alliance faculty advisor, Betsy Hart, director of the Trojan Food Pantry, Whitney Bradford, assistant director of the Trojan Food Pantry, and Sarah Beth Estes, director of the Community Connections Center. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III/UA Little Rock Communications.

The hundreds of people who use the Trojan Food Pantry at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will soon have access to fresh produce grown in the UA Little Rock Campus Garden.

In fall 2016, the Campus Garden Alliance became a registered student organization and entered into a partnership with the Trojan Food Pantry.

The 20 members of the UA Little Rock Campus Garden Alliance will work on the campus garden and donate the bounty to the Trojan Food Pantry.

“Being able to get fresh food is important for the health of the people who use the food pantry,” said Amber Mitchell, senior biology major and president of the Campus Garden Alliance.

Thanks to the partnership, people who use the food pantry will have access to produce such as beets, cauliflower, cabbage, greens, tomatoes, peas, peppers, herbs, squash, onions.

Mitchell estimated that the Campus Garden Alliance will donate 90 percent of the crops to the food pantry, while the members will keep the rest of the produce.

A $2,000 grant from the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance will aid the effort to provide fresh food to the pantry.

Betsy Hart, assistant director of Community Connections Center, and Stephen Grace, faculty advisor of the Campus Garden Alliance and professor of biology, were awarded a capacity building grant to purchase materials to expand the campus garden and increase storage for fresh foods at the food pantry.

“We want to build the partnership between the Trojan Food Pantry and the Campus Garden Alliance,” said Sarah Beth Estes, executive director of the Community Connections Center. “We wish to build the capacity of both organizations and provide opportunities for UA Little Rock community members to learn more about healthy food and urban gardening and help people get access to fresh food.”

The Trojan Food Pantry opened in February 2016 as a way to help UA Little Rock students, employees, and their families in need of assistance. One of Hart’s major goals has always been to provide fresh food to the people who utilize the food pantry.

“Most of the goods we give out at the food pantry are nonperishable items, which are not as healthy as fresh food,” she said. “We have always wanted to increase our fresh food capacity to better provide for the people we serve.”

Approximately 306 people access the food pantry every month, including 109 children under the age of 18, Hart said.

Food pantry participants must fill out a first-time form online or in person at the pantry in the Donaghey Student Center. A three-day supply of food is provided to participants once a week based on the items chosen on their food request form.

For more information or to donate to the Trojan Food Pantry, contact Betsy Hart at edhart@ualr.edu or 501.569.3424. For more information about the Campus Garden Alliance, contact Stephen Grace at scgrace@ualr.edu.

In the upper right photo, pictured from left to right are Amber Mitchell, president of the Campus Garden Alliance, John Poole, Campus Garden Alliance member, Temeka Williams, operations director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Patty Barker, director of the Arkansas No Kids Hungry Campaign, Stephen Grace, professor of biology and Campus Garden Alliance faculty advisor, Betsy Hart, director of the Trojan Food Pantry, Whitney Bradford, assistant director of the Trojan Food Pantry, and Sarah Beth Estes, director of the Community Connections Center. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III/UA Little Rock Communications.

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