Skip to main contentSkip to main navigationSkip to footer content
Featured | NewsFebruary 17, 2022

Wild Roarin' West Food Drive Lassos Thousands of Donations

Written By: Samantha Contreras

The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith hosted its annual Homecoming Stock the Pantry Pep Rally at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17, in the campus Recreation and Wellness Center. The Student Activities Office, Campus Activities Board, and the Greek Life and Leadership Office partnered together to host a homecoming challenge that gives back to both the campus and local community, bringing in more than 5,986 items of food for the Lion Pride Pantry on campus.

The pep rally featured tables for each organization to showcase their mountains of donation of canned goods, and throughout the event students celebrated with music, dancing, competitions, and refreshments. The 25 student organizations rallying for homecoming points also competed with friendly games and encouraged friends and community members to join them in raising donations.

All of the food donated will be split between the Lion Pride Pantry on campus and the Community Services Clearinghouse of Fort Smith.

This year’s nearly 6,000 donations demonstrated a powerful increase from just over 150 raised during the 2020 virtual homecoming celebrations, and a return to previous highs. “This year, COVID-19 is not getting us down,” said Stephanie London, director of student activities and coordinator of assessment for student affairs. “We are still able to host most of our events, just with some additional safety pieces in place.” 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lion Pride Pantry has provided more than 450 sacks of food to university students and their families – no questions asked.

A 2019 survey from the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, College, and University Basic Needs Insecurity: A National #RealCollege Survey Report found that more than 41 percent of students at four-year colleges and universities had experienced food insecurity within a month. In addition, 44 percent of four-year undergraduate students worried about running out of food, and nearly half of the students surveyed could not afford to eat balanced meals.

The Lion Pride Pantry was opened in its initial form as a large wooden blessing box, Friday, August 23, 2019. Since 2020, the pantry has grown by leaps and bounds, from a few carts of food filling a blessing box to an overflowing room at the Recreation and Wellness Center, stocked with walls of shelves.

Food donations may be dropped off during the weekly hours of operation and monetary donations may be made online. After-hours deliveries may be made at the University Police Department in the UAFS 51st Annex. Call ahead to schedule an after-hours drop-off at 479-788-7140.