Erma Smith

Erma Smith has been a hunger advocate for nearly 25 years. She worked as a volunteer with the food bank in southwest Arkansas for 12 years, then served as executive director for another 12 years. During that time, Erma provided food to about 100 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and other organizations that feed the hungry in southwest Arkansas. Each year, she distributed about 1.5 million pounds of food and grocery products to help feed hungry people. Erma singlehandedly secured much of the food she distributed, relying on the Arkansas Foodbank Network as one of several sources. In addition to distributing food, Erma’s food bank distributed clothing, school supplies, household items, toys and personal care products through a program known as Gifts in Kind. Erma developed a cadre of dedicated volunteers who helped her at the Food Bank. Additionally, she and her volunteers prepared gift baskets for those in need as well as for our annual agency appreciation luncheon, to be given to our volunteer food pantry operators as "thank you’s". In May, Erma left the Food Bank, not because she wanted to, but because her doctor demanded she retire for her health. Erma, who was known as a forklift operator, lifter, order puller as well as ambassador for her organization, reluctantly agreed. Recently, Erma was recognized by the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance at a breakfast at the Governor’s mansion. During her remarks, Erma red a poem she had written which served as her "mantra" for 15 years. The poem is called "Priorities" and remarks upon the importance of "Service for the Lord".