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story.lead_photo.caption Kent Eikenberry President and CEO Northwest Arkansas Food Bank

Kent Eikenberry

President and CEO

Jewels of Giving Gala

Who: NWA Food Bank

What: Dinner, dancing, live and silent auctions

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16

Where: John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers

Tickets: $125

Attire: Cocktail

Information: (479) 872-8774 or nwafoodbank.org

Northwest Arkansas Food Bank

Tell us about your organization:

Mission: "Nourishing Northwest Arkansas communities by feeding hungry people."

Services provided: Simply stated, we provide food to approximately 160 partner agencies who, in turn, give it to food insecure individuals.

Service area: Benton, Carroll, Madison, Washington counties.

Average number of people served annually: Feeding America estimates over 63,000 food insecure persons in our service area, which equates to nearly one in seven. For children under the age of 18, that number jumps to one in four.

How is your organization's mission unique? Lots of churches and organizations operate food pantries which give food to hungry folks. The Food Bank supports those pantries by providing the food they distribute. In some cases, food pantries get nearly 90 percent of their food from us. Additionally, we have a mobile pantry which makes 10 stops during the month and has provided food for nearly 250,000 meals in 2018.

Why do you work or volunteer for a nonprofit organization? I started volunteering at our church's food pantry longer ago than I can remember. From there, I was recruited to serve on the board of directors for the Food Bank. That board experience truly opened my eyes to the need in our community. I continued to feel called to be involved with the Food Bank, and in January 2016, I answered that call.

Do you have a personal connection to the mission? If so, what is it? I've never been hungry, if that's what you mean. But my connection is seeing the faces of those we serve as they change from hopeless to thankful. No one deserves to be hungry, and most of the hungry people in our service area are hard-working people who simply do not make enough money to pay all the bills. I'm thankful the Food Bank is there to help those who need a little help to get by.

What part of your job fills the most of your time? The typical day is anything but typical. I might talk to a funder, meet with a partner agency, help with a volunteer group or pick up donations from a food drive.

What have you learned on the job that you didn't expect? I've learned way more about food safety than I ever imagined I would need to know.

What challenges face your organization? Getting the food we collect to those that need it. We really do a good job collecting food, but there are still too many people struggling to find pantries open when they need help.

Are there volunteer opportunities in your organization? Yes, most definitely. What are they? We have volunteers that sort food, box food, label food and work at the mobile pantries, just to name a few of our tasks. Interested persons can go to nwafoodbank.org and click on "Take Action" then "Volunteer" to sign up.

What upcoming fundraisers and/or other events does your organization have planned? We have one major fundraiser each year, the Jewels of Giving Gala. This year marks the 10th anniversary, and it is being held on Nov. 16 at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. The evening consists of silent and live auctions, dinner and program, along with an after-hours dance party. This year's event is co-hosted by Megan Crozier of Walmart and Mark Huffman of Unilever. We anticipate between 750 and 800 people will attend. In addition to celebrating our 10th anniversary of the gala, we will be recognizing the Food Bank's 30th anniversary year with some special guests.

-- Carin Schoppmeyer

cschoppmeyer@nwadg.com

NAN Profiles on 11/04/2018

Print Headline: Personified

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