Food kits can be given to those in need
Patrol Packs — bags of easy-to-prepare grocery items meant to be given out to those facing food insecurity — are now part of the arsenal of the Baxter County Sheriff’s Department.
Cathy Foraker, director of external affairs for AT&T Arkansas, delivered the first 25 Patrol Packs to the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday morning. The packages are assembled and donated by AT&T through its “Believe Arkansas” program to combat hunger.
The Sheriff’s Office already had the Patrol Packs installed in its patrol vehicles Thursday afternoon, Sherriff John Montgomery said.
“We run into people on a regular basis (that are food insecure),” Montgomery said. “We’re excited to try this, and I think it can make a difference. We’re certainly anxious to try.”
The Patrol Packs contain items like peanut butter, easy-to-make skillet dinners, macaroni and cheese, pouches of tuna and easy-to-open canned goods.
“We had to think about it in case it’s just kids that are left home after school or whatever,” Foraker said. “It’s just things that are easy (to prepare) for a child. If it’s a family, hopefully they can make a meal out of it.”
“We’re out in situations where we see firsthand that the cupboards are bare,” Montgomery said. “Maybe there’s kids around, or whatever it may be. To be able to then say, ‘Here is some help,’ I just think that’s great.”
The Sheriff’s Office will receive 25 Patrol Packs each month from AT&T. There are no restrictions as far who receives the food kits, or paperwork to complete once they are handed out.
“We tried to make it as simple as possible for the officers,” Foraker said. “We don’t want to make it harder than it should be.”
Montgomery said he appreciated that the Patrol Packs did not come with a list of restrictions and instead relied on the deputies’ judgement to make the call when to hand them out.
“I’m not there. The officer may call me on the phone, but like I tell them, they are the one that is there (on the scene),” he said. “If they think there’s a need, they should leave it. I think this is a great thing. This is a win-win.”
AT&T’s Believe Arkansas program is also making donations to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and working with food banks. The Believe Arkansas program is the Natural State’s version of a nationwide plan where AT&T employees pick a specific community need to address in their state.
“Arkansas selected hunger relief because we rank so high in people that just don’t have food,” Foraker said.
The Patrol Pack concept was borrowed from the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, which had equipped local law enforcement officers there with “Cop Boxes.” AT&T employees packaged 1,000 food kits at the program’s kickoff even in Little Rock. Those packages are in the process of being dispersed across the state as the Patrol Pack program is rolled out.
“Our offices are covered up with bags right now,” Foraker said with a laugh.
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