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Hunger Summit to focus on Garland County | Community Spirit

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Hunger Summit to focus on Garland County
Hunger Summit to focus on Garland County

HOT SPRINGS – The first Garland County Hunger Action Summit, to be held on Tuesday, February 26, at the First United Methodist Church, 1100 Central Avenue, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. , will bring community leaders together to address the growing problem of hunger in the county.

Sponsored by the Arkansas Foodbank, Entergy-Arkansas, Inc., and Weyerhaeuser, Inc., the summit will feature the nationally-recognized Poverty Simulation Workshop based on the life experiences of real people living in poverty.  Community leaders are being invited to participate.

During an hour-long exercise that simulates how it feels to struggle for survival, participants will experience the kind of tough choices faced by those living in poverty--between feeding their families, paying for medicine or paying the light bill. 

Dianne Williams, Chief Program Officer at the Foodbank, Little Rock, will facilitate a discussion of hunger relief efforts in the county and resources that are available to help alleviate hunger.

Statistically, 5,460 Garland County children, or a startling 27% of the county’s youth, are hungry.  A recent Feeding America study found that more than 16,000 people in the county are food insecure, and the numbers are growing. 

Co-chairs of the summit are Linda Barnes, recently retired from Entergy, who is a certified trainer and leader of the poverty simulation program, and Karen Garcia, a Hot Springs city council member who works at Weyerhaeuser and is active in the community. 

The Summit grows out of the work of a Garland County Hunger Steering Committee started last year by Peggy Vickers, the Foodbank’s Community Relations Director. Its members include Ms. Barnes and Ms. Garcia, Hot Springs Mayor Ruth Carney, Hot Springs City Manager David Watkins, First United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Zach Roberts, Denice Davis, Lynette Howell, Chris Allen, Susan Dalton, Rebecca Galloway, Chris Scott, Helen Ball, Leon Massey, and Kathy Muse. 

The Arkansas Foodbank, the largest food bank in Arkansas, is a member of Feeding America and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Its warehouses in Little Rock, Warren, and Caddo Valley serve 300 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other agencies that provide aid directly to hungry Arkansans. Last year the Foodbank distributed more than 16 million pounds of food to agencies that help feed the hungry. For information on how you can fight hunger, visit the Foodbank website at www.arkansasfoodbank.org