For the first time in years since Nina Brown has been working at the Salvation Army located on 12th Avenue in Pine Bluff, the current state of their food pantry is at its lowest levels, and they need the community’s help to replenish it.
“We currently have an emergency pantry that we can get out those who come out and are in need — fire victims, people who have lost their jobs, and those that are just in need,” said Brown, the location’s office manager. “You know, they don’t have food or their food stamps haven’t come in, and they can come in through the office and we use our food pantry for that purpose.”
The Salvation Army food pantry feeds about 60 families throughout the Pine Bluff community every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, relying on food items from their emergency food pantry to prepare a number of food bags.
“We also distribute food three days a week that we get from the Feed America program which is through Walmart,” Brown said. “We supplement those bags out of our food pantry when we have more than what we’ve prepared for.”
Sections of shelves that once held cans of sweet peas and corn are now bare, while the Salvation Army struggles to hold on to their remaining stock. Although a plentiful supply of tomatoes line the shelves, there isn’t much families can do with those items alone, according to Brown. Other ingredients need to be added, she said.
A normal food bag that Brown fixes for families includes a couple of cans of corn, green beans, sweet peas, tomatoes, beans, chili, hot dogs, spaghetti, tomato and spaghetti sauce, cereal for the children, and a few cans of tuna and canned chicken for sandwiches and such.
Brown said these are the Salvation Army’s staple items, including small bags of rice when they have them available.
“The Health Department … they want us to get rid of all our dented cans, and, all of this is like dented,” said Brown, motioning towards a few cans of chicken, tuna and an assortment of soups. This is what Walmart give us, and that’s why they give it to us because it’s dented. But we’ve been told that as long as it’s not on the seam, as long as it’s not anything leaking out, that they’re okay.
“But the Health Department said that we need to get rid of all our dented cans in our pantry. So we started pulling stuff, but if we start pulling everything that’s dented then that’s going to deplete it much more.”
At the moment, the food pantry has a decent amount of canned green beans from schools that donated items from their food drives, the post office’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive in May, as well as pre-packaged meals from a meal packing event held by Simmons Bank and Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield back in July.
For people looking to donate items to the Salvation Army’s food pantry, please call their office at 870.534.0504 or stop by the building on 501 East 12th Avenue.