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story.lead_photo.caption Volunteers sort out 10-pound bags of frozen leg quarters that were given away to residents last week.

— CHRIS GILLIAM

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Hundreds of Magnolia and Columbia County residents received 50-pound emergency food boxes last week during Central Arkansas Development Council’s statewide emergency food distribution program.

Randy Morris, CADC’s Chief Executive Officer, was in Magnolia to help several other volunteers distribute the food boxes to the motorists who made their way around the Columbia County Fairgrounds.

Morris, who resides in Benton (CACD headquarters), said it’s a great feeling to help out communities and giving back.

He said he was contacted by mayors, individuals, organizations and state officers seeking ways to get food to Arkansans in need.

“They were asking if we could do anything. I pulled my administration team together and we threw around some ideas. We finally settled on this Emergency Food Box Distribution Program,” said Morris. “We decided to do it in May and in all of the 19 counties we serve.”

Distribution started May 6 in Lonoke and has been to Lewisville, Ashdown, Nashville, De Queen, Camden, Hampton and Carthage.Columbia and Union county residents received food May 13, and the program will travel to Mt. Ida, Murfreesboro, Benton, Little Rock, Arkadelphia, Malvern, Texarkana, Hope and Prescott over the next two weeks.

“We estimated about how many boxes for each county, and we made up 600 for Columbia,” said Morris.

Columbia County’s distribution hours were from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Morris said about 100 vehicles were in line around 8.m.

“We got here as quick as we could to assist the other volunteers in the set up process and giveaway,” he said.

Boxes contained sugar, flour, cereal, corn meal, canned good, tissue, 10-pound bag of frozen leg quarters, frozen ground turkey, frozen vegetables and other items.

“We had a lot of volunteers. A lot of hours and manpower helped pull this off. There’s no way we could’ve done by ourselves,” said Morris.

He praised the volunteers and gave special thanks to local law enforcement for traffic control.

With vehicles lined up up for nearly a half mile along County Road 13, Morris said police did an outstanding job of keeping things flowing smoothly and making sure other passing motorists were safe on the highway.

“We wouldn’t attempt something like this without law enforcement help. To be honest, none of this is possible without a community working together. That’s certainly the case here in Columbia County,” he added.

According to Morris, CADC partnered with Cisco and preboxed everything the day before.

Everyone who received a 50-pound box of food had to meet an income eligibility guidelines and show some form of photo identification. They remained in their vehicles as volunteers placed boxes in the vehicles.

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