Boy Scout Syama Barden, with a little help from his fellow Scouts, recently built and installed a Little Free Pantry as part of his work to become an Eagle Scout, scouting’s highest honor.
Barden’s grandmother, Rebecca Babbs, suggested he consider the free pantry as his Eagle Scout project.
“So, I did some research and found out about these Little Free Pantries that are all over Springdale and Fayetteville,” Barden said. “It’s basically a fancy box on a post that community members can put non-perishable food in for the people who can’t afford food. I hope to provide a way for people to give back to their community and supply something that’s needed. This differs from other food pantries because it’s open 24/7 and it’s safe, discreet, and run by community members. It’s for people to put supplies that they think other people would need in it. There is no sign up or requirement to prove income.”
The Little Free Pantry has been installed at the Eureka Springs Community Center on US62 where the high school used to be. Word is starting to get around about the Little Free Pantry, and donations and pickups have occurred.
“I have talked to people around the community so word is starting to spread,” Barden said. “It’s starting to get more usage. I think the community center is a prime place because it’s a growing site in the community that’s attracting more and more activities and visitors. My wish is for people to see this project and realize how easy it is to donate, and pick up the practice.”
Barden, a senior at Eureka Springs High School, was helped in the project by other local scouts including Camden Boardman, Cayden Ekman, Cole Price and Nolan Briant. The project was supervised by Troop 67 Scout Master Bruce Bieschke and Shawn Michael, a Scout leader.
Other organizations locally providing free food include Flint Street Fellowship at the corner of Flint and Main Sts. which gives out groceries Mondays and Wednesdays each week from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Those receiving help must live in Carroll County, west of the Kings River. Flint Street also serves hot lunches from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Cup of Love at 4032 E. Van Buren, next to the Victoria Inn, offers free soup at noon each day and a free food pantry on Fridays.
Both food banks, which also offer free clothing and other items, find that demand for their services goes up in the winter when there is less employment.