Study Groups: Hunger in NW Arkansas

The Outreach Committee partners with the Christian Education Committee to provide opportunities to learn how we at FUPC can do more to serve as Christ’s hands and heart in the world. Through the Women of the Church, concern grew about a significant local problem: Arkansas leads the nation in the number of hungry children and Washington County is #1 on the list of number of children who struggle to have enough food. We who are so blessed decided that we could, and must do more. But first we wanted to learn more about the problem so we followed the lead of the organization which was organized to address the problem: Feed Fayetteville. Visit feedfayetteville.org

As a result, the issue of hunger became our first study group topic. Each week either a speaker or panel of speakers presents on a separate topic with questions and answers, with periodic breaks to analyze what we’ve heard so far. Issues range from food pantries and food banks, to advocacy for policies that would address hunger or nutrition problems, to meal programs in the public school system, to hearing from Department of Human Services representatives speak about the SNAP program that replaced food stamps.

But the study wasn’t designed to only learn more about the problem of hunger, it was designed to provide information so that FUPC could respond. Ideas that are currently in the process of taking shape as programs include:

  • An on-site garden at the church so that we can grow vegetables to either be used to feed the hungry, or to raise money to feed the hungry.
  • Expanding our “Community Meals” program through which we provide a meal one Friday a month for the hungry or homeless, to include preparing a meal one Sunday afternoon for the hungry or homeless.
  • Working through our Board representative at Cooperative Emergency Outreach (CEO) to expand hours of operations to include either evening or weekend hours to better meet the needs of some of the hungry and some volunteers.
  • Have a “Share Table” at the church on Sunday mornings so that those who have gardens can bring their extra produce to be “purchased” by others who donate to CEO. The produce itself could also be donated to CEO, or used by those preparing the meals for the hungry.

Some of what we have learned can be accessed through the following websites: