UAMS Launches Community Effort to Address Food Insecurity

By David Wise

A community of practice is a learning partnership among organizations and individuals aimed at addressing a common issue. By sharing skills and experiences, the Northwest Arkansas Food Insecurity Community of Practice will be comprised of organizations and individuals who work together to cultivate new strategies to address recurring problems related to food insecurity in Northwest Arkansas.

According to Feeding America, more than 500,000 Arkansans are food insecure, with about 14% of populations in Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison counties experiencing food insecurity. The USDA defines food security as “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.”

An advisory board of local individuals who are experiencing food insecurity or have experienced food insecurity in the recent past will guide the community of practice. Leading experts from across the United States who work to reduce food insecurity and improve the charitable food system will also provide input and advice to the Northwest Arkansas Food Insecurity Community of Practice.

“This project provides Northwest Arkansas organizations the opportunity to shape the future of the region’s collective approach to food insecurity,” said Emily English, Dr.PH., MPS, assistant professor in the UAMS Office of Community Health and Research. “This will be led by community members and organizations living and working in this space every day. We look forward to learning together, growing together and supporting this community of practitioners.”

This project will engage local Northwest Arkansas organizations who serve diverse food-insecure populations. Together with national and local experts, these organizations will meet regularly throughout the project to collaborate, share knowledge and implement projects to strengthen our local food system.

If your organization is interested in joining the Northwest Arkansas Food Insecurity Community of Practice, submit your application by Oct. 4, 2021, through our website at For more information or questions, email or call/text 501-503-2687.

The Walmart Foundation provided a grant to the UAMS Foundation Fund to establish the community of practice, which will place a strong emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and data-driven decision-making and evaluation.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

The UAMS Northwest Regional Campus includes 273 medical, pharmacy, nursing and health professions students, 50 medical and pharmacy residents, and 1,000 community-based faculty. The campus has nine clinics including a student-led clinic and physical, occupational and speech therapy. Faculty conduct research to reduce health disparities. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.