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Featured | News | AlumniAugust 15, 2022

Antioch Partnership Welcomes Students with Full 'Fridges.

Written By: Dr. Judith Hansen

The college students who will live in UAFS’s Sebastian Commons apartments will have some help keeping the fridge full this year.

Thanks to a partnership between The Dave Stevens Lion Pride Pantry, the LionHeart student organization, and Antioch for Youth & Family, students in the apartments will receive deliveries of perishable and nonperishable food. The first delivery will be Aug. 19.

“Antioch has been interested in partnering with UAFS for a long time,” said Kara Crowley, Coordinator for Student Activities and Civic Engagement. “So when we reached out to their founder, Charolette Tidwell, with the idea to ‘Fill the Fridge’ for all on-campus apartments, she immediately supported the idea.”

Tidwell confirmed her long-time desire to get food to students.

“The goal is to build momentum with food pantry knowledge and utilization, improve diets with nutritious food, and build community effort on the college campus,” she explained.

Antioch is an all-volunteer nonprofit serving those in need with fresh produce, nonperishable food, and other necessities. Tidwell is a UAFS alumna of the class of 1974.

On Aug. 19, Antioch will deliver about 200 boxes and bags to campus. Then each apartment in Sebastian Commons will receive 60-70 pounds of food to start the semester with groceries in the pantry and fridge. Then on the first Tuesday of each month, Antioch will deliver 75 boxes of food for distribution to the Commons apartments. Crowley said the amount may be scaled based on need.

Tidwell said the deliveries would have perishable and nonperishable food.

“The perishable contents will include milk, eggs, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, and bread,” Tidwell said.

Nonperishable, pantry-stable foods like peanut butter, pasta and pasta sauce, canned soup, oatmeal, and canned fruit also will be delivered.

“’Fill the Fridge’ will be reoccurring monthly in the Sebastian Commons,” Crowley said. Through this event, we hope to draw attention to the resources we have in the community and on campus for students, no matter if they live on campus or not. ‘Fill the Fridge’ is a launching point for students to visit our own food pantry, knowing that it is a resource for all UAFS students,” Crowley said.

A post-pandemic report by the Forbes Advisor showed that 52 percent of food- and housing-insecure students do not apply for aid because they don’t know how.

The report also revealed that COVID-19 worsened food and housing challenges. In the fall of 2020, 34 percent of college students experienced food insecurity in the previous 30 days. Students who contracted the virus were more likely to experience food insecurity than those who did not. More than one-third of students know someone who dropped out of school because of difficulties affording food.

The Dave Stevens Lion Pride Pantry opened in August 2019 as a blessing box near the Recreation and Wellness Center (RAWC.) Shortly after, a large-scale food pantry opened inside the RAWC. The pantry was in the perfect position to help when COVID-19 brought much of the world to a halt. In its first six months, the pantry served about 450 sacks of groceries to feed students, employees, and their families.

Tidwell founded Antioch to address the nutrition needs of children, the elderly, and veterans in Fort Smith. The organization helps feed more than 10,400 people annually, providing them with over 800,000 meals.