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Arkansas Tech prepares 37,000 meals for local relief organizations | Arts & Culture

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Arkansas Tech prepares 37,000 meals for local relief organizations
Arkansas Tech prepares 37,000 meals for local relief organizations

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. -- More than 300 volunteers from the Arkansas Tech University community and the surrounding area packed 37,000 meals for neighbors in need during an event coordinated by The Pack Shack Saturday morning at the W.O. Young Building Ballroom.
Those in attendance needed just one hour to pack the cheesy rice and vegetable meals, which were given to local service organizations for distribution to the food insecure in the Arkansas River Valley.
“This was a fun way to do something very useful for our community,” said Susie Nicholson, vice president for student services and university relations. “The students had a good time working together for a common cause. It was the perfect way to start our Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.”
The food will be distributed to those in need through First Baptist Church of Atkins, Main Street Mission, Manna House, Ray of Hope Pantry, River Valley Food Pantry, St. John’s Catholic Church Food Pantry and River Valley Food for Kids.
A non-profit organization headquartered in Rogers, The Pack Shack was co-founded by Arkansas Tech alumnus Jarod Ring. The mission of The Pack Shack is to "supply provisions and opportunities for our neighbors in need."

A 2007 Tech graduate with a degree in emergency management, Ring was back at his alma mater on Saturday to coordinate the effort.
“Really good music is crucial,” said Ring when asked how it is possible for 300 volunteers to pack 37,000 meals in one hour. “It’s a well-oiled assembly line. Each bag has eight meals, so each bag makes a lot of food. We just have to keep the energy high, keep people pumped up and they’ll pack a lot of meals in a short period of time.”
According to data on The Pack Shack website, Arkansas is the most food insecure state in the union with 21.2 percent of its citizens regularly facing limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food.
“People are often shocked…they think no, not here in our community,” said Ring. “That’s why we encourage them to get out and get involved with organizations that are doing amazing work day in and day out. People are determined to help and want to know what they can do to help. It’s our job to present the issues and give them something to do about it. It’s their job to take that information and do what they want with it beyond packing meals. What’s really exciting is the people who get fired up to do something beyond what they’re doing with us. We love to hear the stories of the people who make a daily and weekly difference.”

Arkansas Tech will continue its Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2016 commemoration with an event entitled “A Day of Recognition and Remembrance” on Monday, Jan. 18, beginning with a moment of reflection and meditation at 11 a.m. at Hindsman Tower.

A peace march will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Hindsman Tower and continue to Young Ballroom, which will serve as the location for a ceremony beginning at noon.

Events will continue with an open mic night beginning at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Young Ballroom and a gallery walk from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at Young Ballroom.

The gallery walk will feature artistic pieces related to Martin Luther King Jr. and/or the civil rights movement submitted by Arkansas Tech students and registered student organizations.

All of the events listed above are open to the public.

For more information about the Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2016 events at Arkansas Tech, call (479) 880-4358 or send e-mail to diversity@atu.edu.