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Giving Has Come "Full Circle": Actioning Emergency Food Assistance at U of A

Julia Lyon believes that even a small group, with unbelievable dedication, can change the world -- Full Circle Campus Food Pantry does just that for the University of Arkansas community. This month alone, the group received more than 3,000 canned food donations.

“Never doubt that a small group of dedicated citizens can change the world, in fact it’s the only thing that ever has.”  - Margaret Mead. Two years ago, a group of students (the Volunteer Action Center) at the University of Arkansas started talking about the issue of food insecurity and how it affected students on the UA campus. One year ago, after months of planning, Full Circle Campus Food Pantry celebrated its grand opening. And now, being recognized by the White House’s Campus Champions of Change initiative is truly a testament that a small group of dedicated people really can make an impact.

Full Circle is an emergency food assistance program at the University of Arkansas that was established to address the needs of students and staff facing food insecurity while providing on campus service opportunities for students. Each request for assistance is met with a three day supply of food.

Full Circle is completely student run. Students on the Volunteer Action Center board serve as the Full Circle Chair (that’s me), Donations Manager, Food Drive Sponsor, Volunteer Coordinator, and Applications Coordinator to really organize how the pantry runs. It takes more than just the students on the Board to run the pantry though. We have 25 students who serve as Full Circle Volunteers; these students commit two hours each week to filling requests for food and stocking donations. And that doesn’t include our Extra Hands, 75 volunteers, students and staff, who help us out with huge food drives, big donations, and by shopping for certain staples that we don’t usually get through food drives (like canned meats, cereal, and peanut butter).

 The University of Arkansas community has provided incredible support to the Full Circle program. Just this month we hosted our campus wide food drive called Food Fight; more than 1,200 people registered to participate and altogether donated more than 3,000 cans of food. 

Working with Full Circle has been the perfect lesson in compassion, in taking initiative, and in working together for change.

Julia Lyon serves on the University of Arkansas’ Volunteer Action Center Board as the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry Chairman.