SEARCHING 4 SOLUTIONS: Foodbank, Kroger team up to bring food to veterans

Victory Over Violence

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Randy Fowler enjoyed his trip on the Fresh 2 You bus.

“I love my collard greens,” Fowler said.

He got to pick out fresh vegetables, fruits and canned goods and has big plans for the food he got there.

“I can use these green peppers for my gumbo,” Fowler said.

Fowler is a veteran. He served five years in the U.S. Army. After serving his country, he fell on hard times.

“I was homeless at one time, but I’ve moved up, got a home now, got me an apartment, help through the VA,” Fowler said.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 238 veterans were homeless in Arkansas as of January of last year. That’s why the Arkansas Foodbank has partnered with Kroger to bring the Fresh 2 You bus to the Veterans Day Treatment Center in Little Rock.

“Instead of preparing a box, they actually can go through the bus, pick out the items that meet their specific dietary restrictions, things that they prefer and that way they’re going home with a box of food that is most appropriate for them,” Sarah Riffle, with the Arkansas Foodbank, said.

This is called the client choice model and it’s a big hit with the vets.

“It’s helped so many of our veterans who weren’t able to access food in the way that they needed to before,” Meredith Irby with the Veterans Day Treatment Center said.

Aside from getting food, the veterans also took a nutrition class and learned different ways they could prepare some of the food they got.

“It’s a blessing that they show up here for us because we need all the help we can get,” Fowler said.

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