Fayetteville Food Pantry Assists Spanish-Speaking Families
The Latino community makes up 8 percent of the Fayetteville population, making outreach programs like Thursday nights for Spanish-speaking families at LifeSource International important.
By Sophia Neubaum
The Razorback Reporter
Programs in northwest Arkansas are working to aid Latino residents by dedicating time and resources to those who experience food insecurity, according to interviews.
The majority of the Latino community that has been served by the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank earns less than $20,000 per household, and most of the households comprise four members, according to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. In 2018, the poverty threshold for a household with four members over age 18 was $25,701, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Low-income families are more likely to experience food insecurity because low-income areas often lack what are described as full-service grocery stores and farmers markets. Those under-served neighborhoods have greater availability to fast-food restaurants and frequently lack transportation to healthful food providers, according to the Food and Research Action Center.
An area is considered to be low-access if at least 500 people, or at least 33% of the population is far from the nearest supermarket, said Alana Rhone, USDA agricultural economist.
Kent Eikenberry, CEO of Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, thinks it’s important that outreach programs are geared specifically toward the Latino community, he said. “It certainly is a large part of the population,” Eikenberry said, citing the need to serve the Latino community, which makes up 8% of the Fayetteville population according to the U.S. Census.
The Latino community is the largest minority group in the area, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. On average, Latinos comprise 21% of the population of the four largest northwest Arkansas cities – Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville – according to the Census.
Along with the Food Bank, other programs in the area also are working to assist this demographic.
One non-profit organization, LifeSource International, has devoted one night a week designed to accommodate the Latino community through food assistance with Spanish-speaking volunteers.
The program has been open for more than five years and, “arose out of a need to help that community and make them comfortable,” said Coletta Patterson, LifeSource International development director.
“We have a large Hispanic population, so we have a night dedicated to them. We have several Spanish-speaking volunteers that make them feel more comfortable,” Patterson said.
LifeSource aims to help anyone, regardless of background, warehouse manager Arturo Garcia said.
“LifeSource is truly a blessing for the community and the different people we serve here,” Garcia said. “Thursdays are mostly dedicated to the Hispanics, but if people from another country or nationality come in and they’re in need, we serve them.”
The clients they serve outside the Latino community come from various places, such as the Marshall Islands and India, Garcia said.
“There’s people who move to the area looking for a better life for their family and their kids, and there’s people who arrive to the area wearing the clothes on their backs. They don’t have anything,” Garcia said. “A lot of the times they’re helped by family, friends, or even people from their country, and they stay at their homes until they get to know the area, get a job, and move out.”
LifeSource International food assistance is open 8:30-11a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 600 S. School Ave. Spanish-speaking volunteers are available at 5:30 p.m., Thursdays. Clients are required to bring identification.
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