ROGERS, Ark. — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the need for access to affordable, nutritious food has grown in communities across the nation, including right here at home.
Some local gardeners are giving to food banks to help feed families during the pandemic.
When COVID-19 forced everything to shut down and people were stuck in quarantine, the Klein family in Rogers took it as an opportunity to try something new.
“We went crazy in the backyard. We ended up planting 20 tomato plants, five bell peppers, a watermelon, a cantaloupe, and some yellow squash,” said local gardener Vanessa Klein.
The Klein's say they don't necessarily like to eat everything they grow and found themselves with a lot of extra food.
Their home garden produces up to seven pounds of produce every day. It's more than enough to feed family, friends and to donate to a local food pantry.
Klein says she dropped off 30 pounds of tomatoes at the St. Vincent De Paul Food pantry in Rogers. Located across the street from the church on Poplar Street, the drive-thru food pantry operates four days a week.
“I’ve seen a lot of new people, a lot of new clients that have come in. We still have our regulars but there has been a lot since COVID hit that we have increased our clientele,” said Kim Gallicio of the St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry.
While the pantry still receives donations from businesses, community contributions have decreased.
“When you're in the store, dry goods, canned goods, just buy a little extra and drop it off," Gallicio said.
Food insecurity is something that can impact anyone from any demographic.
“It can affect anyone, if you lose your job, the likelihood of you dealing with food insecurity is high,” said Angela Oxford, Director of the Center for Community Engagement University of Arkansas.
As for Klein, giving back to her community from her own backyard was a no-brainer.
“I would just like to challenge our local gardeners to do this, to just step up to the plate, and to support your own community. To just bring it back full circle,” Klein said.
You don't have to be a member of the church to visit or donate to the St. Vincent De Paul food pantry.
Food banks in Northwest Arkansas:
Food banks in the River Valley: