To commemorate the Arkansas Foodbank’s 30th Anniversary, we are highlighting 30 people who made a difference in fighting hunger in Arkansas. These people are passionate champions for the hungry and have helped shape the Foodbank into the cornerstone of hunger relief that it is today.
Ironically, the first person on our list spent her entire life putting others first: Virginia Brissey. When we first discussed the list toward the end of 2013 at the Foodbank, members of the staff had very much been looking forward to talking to Virginia about her role as a founding member of the Arkansas Foodbank Network in 1984.
Throughout our 30 year history, not only was she instrumental in forming the Foodbank, she played a pivotal role as a board member for many years, most recently from 2005 to her untimely passing in December 2013.
It was her passion to help others that always set her apart. She spent 23 years working in child nutrition with KIDS FIRST, a program that provides diagnostics and treatment services for children six weeks to five years old that have special healthcare needs. There, Virginia wore many hats including Operations Manager as well as overseeing the Child Care Food Program. Many of the children in the program came from high levels of poverty. Virginia enjoyed hearing from children in high school who were not thought to be able to go beyond the hospital.
In May 2012, Virginia sat down with the National Food Service Management Institute where she discussed her life’s work in child nutrition. In the interview she stated, “I've been in the field a lot of years, one I never expected to be in. And I've enjoyed it. I'm well past retirement age, but I'm not retiring. I love what I do. I think I make a difference, and as long as I'm able I want to continue to work at the things that I KNOW are benefiting these kids. That's really where I am.”
On behalf of the Arkansas Foodbank, thank you Virginia for your dedication in improving the lives of thousands of Arkansans and being a face of hunger relief.