CARLISLE, Ark. – A small Arkansas community has stepped up to help the elderly in their town.

Shelby’s Pantry is a food resource in Carlisle. It was started by Tina Hillman and run by volunteers from the local church. One of those volunteers is James Givens.

“I’m 75, and there are a lot of them that are my age and younger,” Givens said.

Givens is referring to the patrons he brings food boxes to.

“Usually, about five different homes I can make…then I go back to the church, and they will load me up again, then I get another five,” Givens added.

He is one of the many volunteers who are trying to put an end to senior hunger monthly.

Hillman said the need is pretty big in Carlisle.

“We went from 14 patrons and now we have 102 households, which is probably over 300 people.”

But that is just a small piece of the problem.

According to Feeding America:

“In 2020, out of 76 million seniors age 60+ in the United States, 5.2 million seniors (6.8%) were food insecure, including 2 million seniors (2.6%) who experienced very low food security (VLFS). Thus, 1 in 15 seniors, or 6.8% of the senior population, were food insecure.

16.9% of Arkansans aged 50-59 are estimated to be food insecure, placing Arkansas 1st in the country for the highest food insecurity rate amongst that age group.”

Brian Burton, the CEO of the Arkansas Food Bank said they are often a “forgotten population.”

“Very few of them will reach out or self-report, so a lot of times our teams here at the Arkansas Food Bank, we have to reach out and find them,” Burton said.

The Arkansas Food Bank shared this information regarding its Food for Seniors Program:

  • Provide community-level access to food through a network of 327 partner agencies such as local food pantries, soup kitchens and senior centers.
  • With the help of volunteers, deliver food boxes to 200 homebound seniors living in Pulaski County.
  • Distribute USDA CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) food boxes to homebound seniors through Foodbank volunteers and joint efforts through CareLink.
  • Offer senior-specific grant opportunities to provide agencies with additional resources to implement or improve services currently being offered.
  • Conduct workshops on implementing senior programming and utilizing our “Guide to Serving Seniors.”
  • Assist seniors with SNAP application and approval process through partner agencies, community events and joint efforts with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
  • Seek agencies and community partners to serve seniors in targeted communities.
  • Host community-based workshops to address root causes of senior hunger and identify community resources and partnerships that promote food security.

If you are interested in helping seniors in your area you are encouraged to reach out to the Arkansas Food Bank.