UAMS, Partners Provide Food Lockers for Local Pantry

By David Wise

The lockers were installed as part of a joint effort between the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), the Northwest Arkansas Food Insecurity Community of Practice and the St. James Missionary Baptist Church. The lockers officially opened today with a ribbon cutting at the church’s food pantry in Fayetteville.

UAMS Community Health & Research launched the Northwest Arkansas Food Insecurity Community of Practice in 2020 as part of their ongoing work to improve access to healthy food. The community of practice is a group of local organizations and community stakeholders who share their skills and experience to address food insecurity in the region.

Food insecurity is a lack of consistent access to safe, adequate, culturally appropriate and nutritious food. It can be a temporary or long-lasting situation for a household. According to Feeding America, about one out of every five households in Arkansas is food insecure, and an additional 150,000 Arkansans struggled with hunger due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The community of practice worked with St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville to provide food storage lockers for the church’s pantry. The lockers are temperature-controlled, food-safe devices that store fresh, shelf-stable and frozen foods.

“The Community Food Lockers will bridge the gap between pantries and neighbors and will empower community members who are experiencing food insecurity,” said Bonnie Faitak, an associate community program director in the UAMS Office of Community Health & Research. “This achievement is a significant milestone in our collective efforts to expand equitable access to healthy foods and serve our community with dignity and respect.”

Currently, the St. James Food Pantry provides free food through its drive-thru pantry and through DoorDash. Now, eligible food pantry clients who cannot access the pantry during regular hours will be able to place a food order online and pick it up from the food locker at a more convenient time.

“We’re excited the new Community Food Lockers will offer additional access to healthy and nutritious foods for our community through client choice with dignity,” said Monique Jones, St. James director of outreach and community engagement.

The St. James Food Pantry is located at 115 S. Willow Ave. in Fayetteville.

The Northwest Arkansas Food Insecurity Community of Practice is funded by the Walmart Foundation. Learn more about the community of practice and participating organizations at

The UAMS Northwest Regional Campus includes 329 medical, pharmacy, nursing and health professions students, 66 medical and pharmacy residents, and two sports medicine fellows. The campus has nine clinics including a student-led clinic, orthopaedics and sports medicine, and physical, occupational and speech therapy. Faculty conduct research to reduce health disparities.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 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. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,240 students, 913 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 11,000 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.