ATU students overwhelm food distribution program

Staff Writer
Josh Dunbar, left, executive director of River Valley Food 4 Kids, worked with Arkansas Tech University students to deliver 35,425 food items to the relief organization's warehouse on Friday, April 9.

Arkansas Tech University fraternities and sororities donated 35,425 nonperishable food items to River Valley Food 4 Kids in Russellville through a drive that culminated on April 9 with a drop-off event at the organization’s North El Paso Avenue location.

“I’m very overwhelmed right now,” said Josh Dunbar, executive director of River Valley Food 4 Kids, during a break between delivery waves. “This is a lot more food than even I was anticipating. It’s a testament to how impactful it is. Students don’t have to be invested. They don’t have to do this, so the fact they are willing to go out and donate this amount of food really is awesome.”

Dunbar said in the short term the donation from ATU students will allow River Valley Food 4 Kids to “double, if not triple” the amount of food the organization is able to distribute to food insecure children in the region.

“Our program can go further and serve more children as a direct result of this donation,” said Dunbar. “I don’t think it can be emphasized enough how much everyone doing a little bit can go a long way. I am blown away by these students.”

Payton Youngblood, a graduate assistant in the ATU Division of Student Affairs, oversaw the food drive by ATU fraternities and sororities as part of her mentorship for College Panhellenic Council and Order of Omega.

“It makes my heart very happy,” said Youngblood when asked about the outcome of the food drive. “This shows what Greek life is all about. It’s about service and serving the Russellville and ATU communities. From August to now, I’ve noticed an increase among our students to want to get out there and do service projects. They want to give back to the community that has given so much to them.”

A native of Green Forest, Youngblood is pursuing a Master of Education degree in K-12 literacy at Arkansas Tech. “I’m going into education as a teacher, so this hits my heart a lot,” said Youngblood. “I know a ton of kids don’t have access to food, so it makes me super happy that they’ll be able to get through the summer, go back to school in the fall and continue to benefit from this food.”

Maddi Holloway of Alma is among the ATU students who made the project possible. A junior English major with a minor in pre-law, Holloway assisted in the organization of the food drive and helped deliver carload after carload of nourishment from the ATU campus to the River Valley Food 4 Kids warehouse.

“As members of a Greek organization, we are always looking to give back to the community because Russellville has done so much for us and given us so many opportunities,” said Holloway. “To see all of the organizations show up and provide this much food is an awesome feeling. This took just a week of our time, but it will continue to positively affect others months down the road.”