People all over the world have had to make significant adjustments to their lives due to COVID-19. For Pitt State student Mackenzie Spaulding, senior in social work, these adjustments mainly affected her senior project in social work.
Spaulding is fundraising for Arma’s new food pantry and is collecting dry pasta, pasta sauce and monetary donations. She had planned to set up donation boxes around Pittsburg but changed course due to COVID-19 and instead will have one box outside of Root Coffeehouse and will accept monetary donations online through a Facebook page called Stock the Shelves of Arma. The page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/682827262526017/.
“… I was planning on having donation boxes around like Pitt State itself and Pittsburg,” Spaulding said. “But because of all the Corona stuff and the health risk going out in public, I’ve decided to mainly do online monetary donations. That being said, I will be doing one donation box that will be located outside of Root Coffeehouse from April 14 through April 28… (so that) if people are wanting to physically donate items, they have a location to do that.”
Crawford County has some of the highest levels of poverty within Kansas. Many residents of Arma do not have access to transportation or a grocery store. The main cause of poverty in Arma is geographical barriers. The closest grocery store is just under 10 miles away and the only other place to purchase food and other essentials is a convenient store across the highway. Because of this, Arma is almost considered a food desert however, the requirement to receive federal funding is that the closest grocery store be 10 miles away, so they do not meet the requirements.
To fight the growing poverty in Arma, the city partnered with Live Well Crawford County. In May of 2019, a community garden was set up. Recently, the new food pantry was set up in the Arma City Library.
“They have partnered with (Live Well) Crawford County to help kind of overcome some of these food barriers… and they have this food pantry but unfortunately it doesn’t have any food in it right now because it’s not very well known about,” Spaulding said. “So.., I saw how impoverished and how much struggle they were experiencing and so I kind of wanted to direct my efforts toward them. That’s why I think it’s important for Arma, because they just don’t have a lot and a lot of people don’t have proper transportation there because it is kind of a poorer city. So, a lot of people are affected by that lack of… transportation.”
While she has never experience poverty herself, Spaulding hopes to support the local community and assist in any way she can.
“For me specifically… it was important because I grew up in Johnson County up in Kansas City and so I never really experienced a lot of poverty or food insecurity or anything like that,” Spaulding said. “So, I came down to Crawford County for school, for Pitt State, and it was kind of extremely eye opening just seeing how much poverty and how many people are struggling to find their next meal. So, I wanted to find a way to be able to give back to people who were not as fortunate as me and support them in the best way that I could.”