Greenway Equipment, based in Northeast Arkansas, has spent years donating thousands of dollars to a backpack food program that provides hungry children food on the weekends when they are not in school. Greenway Senior Vice-President Rick Bormann told Talk Business & Politics company officials decided to take their efforts a step further.
Officials approached country music star Jason Aldean and asked him to donate one of his Gators, an all-terrain vehicle commonly used on farms and ranches. He agreed. Tickets to buy the gator have been sold, and at this point $70,000 has been raised and Bormann is hopeful the total will reach at least $100,000 before the donation period ends next Friday (Jan. 25) he told members of the Kiwanis Club of Jonesboro on Wednesday (Jan. 16).
“No child in our area deserves to go hungry. Help us fight this fight,” he said.
An estimated one in four children in Arkansas suffers from a lack of food, he said. A lack of food means that when they go home, they don’t know if there will be anything there to eat. It’s ironic in the Delta that there is such a hunger problem.
In Greenway’s coverage area, which includes the Arkansas Delta region stretching from the bootheel of Missouri all the way south to Grady, there are about five million row crop acres. It’s among the most fruitful growing land on Earth, Bormann said.
“In a place where we produce so much food, how can food security even exist?” he said.
Greenway has contributed to the Backpack Program for the last six years. Food banks in Jonesboro, Little Rock, and Sikeston, Mo., dole out 4,600 backpack meals each Friday. About 1,200 backpacks are doled by school districts throughout Northeast Arkansas each week, he said. For many children they are the only meals they will receive from the time they leave school on Friday until they return on Monday. It costs $150 to feed each child throughout the school year. When school ends, churches and other local organizations try to pick up the slack and provide food for children, he added.
Many children are grateful for the food.
“It helps me stop crying,” one child wrote. “It makes my stomach feel warm,” another child wrote.
Greenway employees have led the charge to raise donations for the program, Bormann said. When the donation drive is finished, the money will be evenly divided among the food banks in Jonesboro, Little Rock and Sikeston. A drawing to determine the winner will be held on KAIT.
Greenway, started in Newport in 1988, provides all types of John Deere farm equipment. The company has 23 locations in Arkansas and another five in southern Missouri. It employs 643 workers.
Marshall Stewart, Greenway Equipment Co. President, appeared on Talk Business & Politics Daily to discuss the Gator giveaway for the food banks and farming in general. Watch his interview below.