EUDORA, Ark. (06/12/20) — The only grocery store in Eudora remains vacant after six months of the owners putting the property up for sale but a group of committed citizens and natives are putting their heads and hands together to fill a need in the community.
“I believe this store was the heart of our town,” Cameron Welch said. “It’s been hard on everybody,” her mom, Linda Welch said.
The effort to restore the store in underway. A group of three people in the town are leading the charge to buy the property and make it into a community store.
Samuel Johnson, one of the organizers, is working to bring a full service grocery store back to town along with other businesses.
“We have a group of what we call angel investors and we’ve donated quite a bit of money to get started,” he said.
In the meantime, Raina Porchay, a former resident of Eudora is taking a few small steps to make sure her community has what they need during this pandemic and food insecurity crisis the town is experiencing.
“Eudora is considered a food desert city,” she said.
She challenged herself along with her class of 1991 to pay it forward and give back to the town’s revitalization.
Porchay contacted the local United States Department of Agriculture and farm agencies to assist rural areas.
“There are programs out there that help the entire United States but in the state of Arkansas, a lot of times they forget the corner areas which are Dermott, Eudora, McGehee, Montrose and Parkdale,” she said.
She came across the Farmers to Families Food Box program sponsored by the USDA. The organization as a whole has distributed 5 million boxes across the country. In Eudora and surrounding areas, Raina has distributed 4,000 boxes on behalf of her farm.
The program started in the month of June. A vendor from Little Rock drops off 28,000 pounds of fresh fruit and produce that has been delivered each Friday.
Rayna is looking for programs where she can have meat vendors for the month of July and by August she hopes to start a farmer’s market.
“It makes me happy that someone from our town is trying to bring stuff back,” Welch said.
The program has been a much needed boost for the town, especially for the elderly population. Betty Horn, 75, and her husband would drive approximately 5 minutes to the Sunflower Grocery Store. Now, the couple along with others are having to drive over 20 miles to the nearest town.
“The food comes in handy,” Horn said. “We don’t have to go out and shop for it.”
“It’s a hassle to have to go to another town to get groceries which is 17 miles. 34 miles round trip,” Mack Payne said.
Porchay is making a plea to the public for help. She says Eudora is a hidden gem and hopes someone will invest in the town and its people.
“You’re not just serving Eudora but you’re servicing the boundary areas too,” she said. “We want to make sure they have the same access as the cities in the central Arkansas and northwest Arkansas.”
She’s been trying to bring awareness to state leaders about the lack of food in the area.
Porchay is trying to fill a need temporarily but would appreciate any help for the long-term whether that’s a financial donation or help with finding resources.
You can follow the Restore Eudora Facebook page for more information.