The first food pantry in Sparkman (Dallas County) opened its doors last week at 104 West Taylor Street.
On opening day, the pantry served more than 175 people.
The Arkansas Foodbank assisted with the startup, providing a truckload of food to begin the new pantry's operations.
The Sparkman Food Pantry will become a member of the Caddo Valley Branch of the Arkansas Foodbank. It will pick up food supplies from the Caddo Valley foodbank warehouse near Arkadelphia.
The pantry has widespread community support.
"This is a wonderful group of dedicated individuals who have worked tirelessly to make this pantry a reality," said Peggy Vickers, the Arkansas Foodbank's Community Relations Director. "It is a real joy to see a community come together and work so hard to accomplish their goal of feeding the hungry."
Mayor Henry Nalls, a life-long resident of Sparkman, spearheaded the effort to create the pantry, along with the City Council. Dallas County Judge Jimmy Jones has also supported the effort. A vacant doctor's clinic was donated for the site of the pantry, with lumber donated to build shelves to hold canned goods and other food and supplies. Mayor Nalls and a friend built the shelves in the separate clinic offices. Judge Jones was helpful in securing donated appliances, including a large commercial refrigerator for the pantry. Entergy made it possible to begin electrical service to the pantry.
Sylvia Savage, the pastor's wife from Sparkman United Methodist Church, assisted in many ways, including volunteer recruitment. Sylvia was able to get the use of a freezer from the Community Center with Pastor Kevin Moss's approval. The Community Center is located across the street from the pantry. About 15 volunteers have been recruited to assist with regular operation of the pantry, which will be open weekly on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Area churches contributed to raise funds for the pantry, and local businesses have chipped in to help as well.