Westside High School Air Force JROTC

Each month of the school year, 30 or more cadets from the Westside High School Air Westside High School Air Force JROTC PhotosForce JROTC come to the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas to volunteer. The cadets pour into the lobby, sign in, grab their visitor stickers, and split into their groups without missing a beat. After volunteering more than 2,000 hours of their time, it's no surprise that the cadets have the routine down to a science.

"We started volunteering with the Food Bank in 2018 and for the last four years (with the exception of the COVID shutdown) have volunteered at least one day each month during the school year," said Major Scott Norman, Senior Aerospace Science and Air Force JROTC instructor at Westside High School. "We were looking for an opportunity that allowed a large number of cadets to complete community service regularly and do something that made a real difference in our local community."

Since 2018, approximately 200 Westside Air Force JROTC cadets have volunteered at the Food Bank. In that time, they have packed more than 500,000 meals for Northeast Arkansans facing food insecurity.

"Our cadets have a really competitive spirit about everything they do, and the Food Bank is no different. Our two separate teams of about 16-18 cadets work as fast and as hard as possible in an attempt to complete their pack before the other group," Major Norman said.

Each month, the Food Bank packs approximately 4,000 boxes of food for distribution. Without the cadets from Westside, the Food Bank would struggle to get all the boxes packed.

"When you volunteer at the Food Bank, you know that you are making a difference," said Cadet Allison Patsey. "It's obvious that they could not do all that they do without volunteers, and they're appreciative and thankful for the time that you give to help them meet their mission."

When we asked Cadet Hunter Walpole how volunteering at the Food Bank impacted him he said, "Working at the Food Bank has made me more aware of the less fortunate people in our area and made me want to find every opportunity that I can to give back. This is something I plan to do for the rest of my life, whenever I am able to do so."

The Food Bank is so grateful for the Westside Air Force JROTC cadets and their dedication to the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas mission.

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