As part of a continuing effort to support students in every aspect of their educational careers, the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith launched a new initiative to offer and encourage healthy eating choices. A collaboration between the LionHeart Volunteer Program and the UAFS Recreation and Wellness, the LionHeart Wellness Stand was opened in the Recreation and Wellness Center (RAWC), providing students grab-and-go snacks that promote a healthy lifestyle.
This initiative works alongside the Dave Stevens Lion Pride Pantry, which provides grocery and high-need items for students who may be facing food insecurity at home. The Wellness Stand began as a collaborative idea between Meighan Pendergrass, director of Campus Recreation and Wellness, and Katie Cochran, coordinator for Student Activities, and the pair hope it can provide nearly 100 food items each day.
"My hope for students visiting the Wellness Stand is that we can continue to meet our students where they are on campus to provide them with their basic needs," said Cochran. "We all know that when a student’s basic needs aren’t met, they are more likely to struggle with classes and work, so being able to add this component to campus life is really important to me. It continues to show that, at UAFS, we care about our students as a whole, we want to see them succeed on all levels, and we are willing to put in the work to make that happen.”
"As a LionHeart leader, the willingness of the UAFS staff and community has been evident since I joined,” said Drew Yarbrough, a sophomore volunteer. "Working on ideas for service opportunities that target identified issues both on and off campus has always been the priority. Having the backing of the university helps aid what we can accomplish and gives confidence for future projects and endeavors."
"There are so many students who come in and out whether that be to work out, play basketball or volleyball, attend a fitness class, climb the rock wall, or just chill and play some ping pong," Yarbrough explained. "Knowing that you can grab a snack that is health sensitive on your way in or out to refuel should be pretty popular with both the regulars and hopefully draw in some new students as well."
During the Wellness Stand kickoff Thursday afternoon, Chartwells, the university’s foodservice provider, offered a Power Hour healthy drink creation station, providing students healthy, immunity-boosting smoothies, and providing contact information for campus dietitians.
Items for the Wellness Stand will be sponsored by the RAWC and the Student Activities Office. Donations of healthy snacks, such as fruit, granola bars, and individual juices, can be dropped off at the Lion Pride Pantry with a note designating that they are for the Wellness Stand.
The stand will be open from noon to 2 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays at the RAWC entrance for the 2020 fall semester.