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The SouthArk Food Pantry at South Arkansas Community College recently marked its second anniversary of operation by receiving a special donation from the Women’s Missionary Society, which gave a large donation of canned goods at a recent meeting in Strong.

The Women’s Missionary Society is a charitable organization within the African Methodist Episcopal Church and operates nationwide. Hundreds of charities across the United States are helped by WMS donations, many of which stay with local charities. Representatives of the Western Arkansas Conference of the WMS met recently at Curry Chapel AME in Strong as part of their annual meeting where attendees collected donations. The organization also made a donation of food and books to Christopher Homes of Strong, a Roman Catholic organization that provides low-cost housing for the elderly.

Ken Bridges, a professor of history and geography at the college who also writes weekly columns for the El Dorado News-Times, founded the SouthArk Food Pantry in 2016. He noted that the pantry began as more students were seen struggling with food insecurity.

“We have many single parents and struggling families in our student community,” Bridges said. “They work hard and need an education to get a good job, but they sometimes face unexpected adversities in their lives and suddenly find they can’t put food on the table.”

The SouthArk Food Pantry has expanded since its founding and many students, staff and professors volunteer their time and give food to the pantry, which operates entirely through donations.

Campus food pantries are becoming increasingly common at colleges and universities as well as high schools, including El Dorado High School. Several other food pantries operate across the area aiding the general public, many operating out of local churches. Bridges noted that the campus food pantry has helped dozens of students since its founding.

“It is a blessing to be able to help others, and there is a lot of need in our community,” Bridges said. “We are grateful for this new donation.”

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