The Arkansas Tech University chapter of Enactus partnered with Main Street Mission on Friday to hold its first budgeting and nutrition seminar, offering low-income families in the local community tips for eating healthy on a budget free of charge.
17 local residents attended the seminar held in the dining area of the mission, led by Lindsey Falkenstein, Enactus member and project leader of "Let's Can Hunger," a joint hunger relief project between Enactus and Campbell Soup Company. Falkenstein used a Powerpoint presentation divided into two major sections: budgeting and nutrition.
Falkenstein tied the two concepts together by leading a discussion on how to eat healthy on a budget and made reference to couponing and seasonal shopping. Several attendees offered advice to one another during the discussion such as where to find the best meat or which meals were easiest and most cost-effective to make.
After the presentation, a representative from Cooking Matters signed several attendees up for "tours" of local supermarkets such as Kroger and Cash Saver. During these tours a representative will teach participants skills such as the ability to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists more precisely.
Amanda Sparks, president of the Arkansas Tech University chapter of Enactus, said that Enactus chose to host the event at Main Street Mission because of the relationship the group has with them and the needy community members in Russellville.
"The mission has a great relationship with the needy people in the community," Sparks said. "[The needy] know their identities will be protected, and they just feel comfortable there."
Sparks, senior double major in management and marketing and economics and finance from Berryville, said that the key goal of the project was hunger relief; instead of just collecting canned goods, Enactus wanted to provide people with the resources to "break the cycle of hunger."
"We want to teach people how to fish instead of giving them fish," Sparks said.
Although the event was open to anyone in the community, those who struggle to provide healthy and nutritious meals for their families were the target audience for the seminar, so Enactus focused marketing efforts on the patrons of Main Street Mission, Sparks said.
"We knew we could reach the right demographic there," Sparks said.
Sparks said that the group expected attendance numbers for the seminar to be in the single digits, but was pleased with the "awesome turnout," with ages anywhere between 3 and 80 in attendance on Friday night.
The families that attended the presentation were offered $50 gift cards from Walmart that were donated by Enactus, Sparks said.
Sparks said that one family in particular stands out in her mind.
Sparks said that when members of Enactus arrived at Main Street Mission, a young father, mother and their 3-year-old son were waiting for dinner, unaware that the seminar was being held that night. A volunteer helped the group open up the kitchen and serve food to the young family, and they decided to stay until the end of the seminar.
The family also wasn't aware of the $50 Walmart gift card giveaway, Sparks said.
"At the end of the event when they got their gift card, they were so grateful," Sparks said. "You could see how much it meant to the mother."
Sparks said that the event was very successful.
For more information on the budgeting and nutrition seminar and Enactus, contact Sparks at
, chapter faculty adviser Dr. Linda Bean at
or find them on Facebook at the page "Enactus-ATU."
For more information on Let's Can Hunger, contact Falkenstein at
or visit the project's website at www.letscanhunger.com.
Students interested in finding out more about Main Street Mission can visit its website at www.mainstreetmission.org or find them on Facebook at the page "Main Street Mission."