An Arkansas Tech organization is in its fourth year of supporting Tech families and teaching students about food security and resource management.
The Green and Gold Cupboard has spent the last four years educating students, faculty and staff about the dangers of not having food security. One in five families in the River Valley are not food secure, meaning they do not have consistent access to healthy, nutritional foods said Sydney Stone, cochair of Because We Can, from Clarksville.
“Food insecurity doesn’t discriminate,” said Marlie Ball, a senior psychology, sociology, and criminal justice major from Gravette. “It could be happening to the girl sitting beside you in class.”
Because We Can is a student organization that raises awareness on issues surrounding poverty such as food insecurity. Because We Can was founded in 2014. It began when three students from a Social Movements and Change class began to get “fired up” about social injustices, according to Ball. The organization started with funding toy drives for the Arkansas Department of Human Services: Division of Children and Family Services. They now host food drives and hygiene drives in addition to toy drives, but their biggest project is the Green and Gold Cupboard, the school’s food pantry.
The Green and Gold Cupboard’s resources are available to students, faculty and staff. It is located off campus and has no signs so “it is discrete, and people won’t be embarrassed to enter the pantry,” said Ball. The Cupboard is currently supporting an estimated 60 Tech families, according to Stone.
When someone comes into the pantry, a volunteer will ask them several questions including their family size and if they have access to certain items such as a can opener at home. Then they fill up a bag with nonperishable food items for them to take home.
If the person is not a student, faculty member or staff member at Tech, volunteers will give them information about other food pantries in the community.
Right now the cupboard is only able to give away nonperishable, prepackaged food that has not expired. Ball said their next mission is to get the walk-in cooler that they have in the pantry working because this would allow them to offer frozen food items to Tech families.
Because We Can’s next campus event is its third annual hygiene drive in April. They will be collecting hygiene products for students in public schools around the community.
Students can get involved with Because We Can and the Green and Gold Cupboard by contacting the Behavioral Science Office in the top floor of Witherspoon, or by participating in the many toy, hygiene and food drives Because We Can hosts throughout the school year.