In the Summer of 2008, a small group met over lunch to talk about launching a massive food drive to help those facing hunger during the holidays. From that meeting, Fill the Food Bank -- a collaborative effort between the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Jonesboro Radio Group, and KAIT-TV -- was born. In the years since, the event has grown from collecting roughly 1,667 meals in 2005 to collecting more than 352,000 meals in 2021.
During the first year of Fill the Food Bank, two events were held. One in September and one in November. "Having two the first year helped us determine which was the better month to hold an annual food drive going forward," said Vicki Pillow, former Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas employee.
As Fill the Food Bank continued, the event evolved. "The first couple of years were focused on food, then it became food and funds, then additional components were added, such as the Top 5 Competition and the partnership with Cream of the Crop at A-State as part of that. The donation total increased each year with the support of the community," said Pillow.
Despite the changes in the event, the goal has always remined the same: to provide food to families in need. "Not only does Fill the Food Bank give an extra boost to enable us to provide more food during the holidays, but the event also brings awareness to the issue of hunger in Northeast Arkansas. It is unthinkable that families in Northeast Arkansas -- our neighbors -- struggle to have access to adequate, nutritious food," said Christie Jordan, CEO of the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas.
Fill the Food Bank would not be the success it is without the support of KAIT-TV, Jonesboro Radio Group, and the amazing Northeast Arkansas community. The Food Bank relies on an army of volunteers to make Fill the Food Bank happen. "What we end up doing is greeting people as they pull up, take their donations, give them hugs, wipe away tears," said Trey Stafford, Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas Board President.
During this upcoming season of thankfulness -- as we reflect on the past 15 years of successful Fill the Food Bank events -- the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas is grateful for the generous support of the Northeast Arkansas community.