Newsletter from Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute

Arma Nutrition Council Harvests Healthy Options for Neighbors

The topic of food insecurity is a sensitive one for Arma City
Library director, and president of the Arma Nutrition Council,
Brenda Banks. It’s also a source of motivation.
Her father, whose childhood spanned the late 20s and early
30s, had to take care of his very sick mother who wasn’t able to
work or afford food. Sometimes he would even have to fish for their
meals. Banks says, “[Food insecurity] is very personal to me. My
father made the commitment to himself that, if he ever had any
children, he would make sure they never went hungry; and we
didn’t. We were fortunate that we ended up living on a farm with
livestock and had a big garden. Now, whenever I see a child or a
person who needs food, I see my father, that little boy in frayed
overalls, having to provide for his sick mother and
always struggling to find food until he entered the Navy.”
Banks mirrors her father’s commitment to children and
families through the work she and the Arma Nutrition Council have
been doing in Crawford County to address severe food insecurity.
The superintendent of the local schools reported to Banks that 75
percent of their students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and
about 43 percent of Arma’s population of 1,481 live under the
federal poverty line. Banks spearheaded a summer lunch program
that, for the past 5 years, has served about 100 kids per day out of
the Arma City Library through a partnership with the USDA.
Another local group facing serious barriers to healthy food is
the older disabled population. There are about 97 designated
disabled apartment units in the city whose residents do not have
access to transportation to the nearest grocer, ten miles away.
Their only option is to cross a busy highway to get to the Dollar
General. This is the only option for many others in Arma too.
Vice president of the Arma Nutrition Council, Susan Robinson,
says, “We haven’t had a grocery store around for about 5 years.
There’s lots of people who live on disability and Social Security
[paychecks]. A lot of us don’t drive and you have to go about 15
miles to get any groceries as the ‘dollar store’ does not have
The members of the Arma Nutrition Council and other
residents brought all of this personal insight and experience to the
table two years ago when Community Liaison, Matt O’Malley,
started hosting community conversations at the Arma City Library,
known locally as “the living room of the community.” Over a span of
two months, four community conversations were held and, by the
fourth one, the meeting space was overflowing with about 55
people in attendance. O’Malley said, “We automatically had
legitimacy because the Library invited us. That was so important to
our work because we had to understand that was the trusted place
in the community. People began feeling inspired to emerge as
In the two years since, those residents have operated
together as the Arma Nutrition Council, which has about 40 official
members and a Board of four resident leaders. Robert Snare,
treasurer of the Council, said, “Being on the team presented
something that was entirely new to the community. We didn’t find
resistance to change in leadership. It was a natural fit for us to get
involved because I’m a businessperson by profession and my wife
has been a supervisor as a nurse back in Johnson County.”
Together, the Arma Nutrition Council has achieved much for
the food system of Arma. Initially, the Council collaborated with the
crowd-funding nonprofit ioby toward a goal of raising $3,000 that
would be matched by both a community foundation and the Kansas
Health Foundation. Their plan was to set up a community garden
and a pantry in the Library in order to increase access to produce in
Arma. They also initiated a companion fund-raising strategy, asking
each person for $2. Council secretary, Sherry Snare, reached out to
the school and local banks, successfully securing donations there,
too. People from around town, many of whom have limited income,
also brought their crumpled $2 bills to Banks at the Library. Within a
mere 24 days, their fund-raising goal was met! Susan Robinson, was
elated. “I’m just proud of everyone that’s contributed in some way. It
doesn’t have to be the physical work. Arma’s been a close-knit
community for so long but, when I first arrived here about 48 years
ago, I was an outsider back then. It’s all changed!”
In July, 2019, the Council members began planting the garden
and purchased a refrigerator, storage racks, and bins to begin
stocking the Library pantry with produce. With the help of donated
seeds and the funding they had secured, the garden is now
producing enough to fill monthly food boxes for 45 families, on top of
the produce that is readily available at the pantry for anyone.
Additionally, the Salvation Army has reached out to the Council and
has been supplementing the produce with other commodities.
Another valuable partnership for the Council has been with
the city government of Arma. It agreed to pay for the water used in
the garden and will soon raise awareness of the pantry program with
a notice printed on residents’ monthly electric bills. Sherry Snare has
continued communicating with the school about eventually
implementing a pantry in the high school, a project currently on hold
due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Covid-19 has also prevented the Council from meeting
regularly over the past several months, delaying the planned start of
gardening classes and the recruitment of additional volunteers to
maintain the garden. However, the officers all echo a common
optimism for the year ahead and those to come. Matt O’Malley says,
“The members of the Council inspire me because they care. It’s their
biggest strength. It’s wild to think these were people that first came
together almost two years ago, and they’re excited to be changemakers every single month. After every meeting, I leave happier than
when I arrived!” Robert Snare reports that, in the coming months,
they will be responding to community members’ nutrition interests by
planting more tomatoes, corn, zucchini, broccoli, and potatoes. They
have also grown lettuce, carrots, peas, and radishes.
When the officers look back at their efforts and at how the
garden has grown, they feel a sense of pride. Sherry Snare says,
“It’s just kind of exciting! I showed the garden to a friend from Florida
when she was here and she told me, too, ‘You helped start it, and I’m
so proud of you!’” Brenda Banks says, “I will be eternally grateful to
have this opportunity in my life. It really makes you feel that you want
to live beyond your life. It’s really a gift to me.”

Fall Festival

Second Annual Fall Festival at the Arma City Library.

We had 35 quilts on display.  Thank you to everyone who participated.

We had two first place winners of the People’s Choice Award.  Dee D’Amico and Sherry Snare.


Arma City Library Is Partnering With Live Well Crawford County

The Arma City Library is proud to announce that is has partnered with Live Well Crawford County in an effort to help better the lives of all Crawfood county residents. Live Well Crawford County believes that “all Kansans should be able to make healthy choices where they live, work, and play.” We invite you to come join us at the Arma City Library on January 23rd and February 21st from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm to enjoy a free catered meal and discuss ways to make Crawfood County a healthier and happier place to be. Free childcare will be provided on-site during this time!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Hoopla Has Arrived

SEKLS (Southeast Kansas Library System) is now offering Hoopla, a streaming service that allows library patrons to borrow digital materials directly to their computer, tablet, smart phone, or TV. Hoopla offers about 650,000 titles including movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics and TV shows. Arma City Library patrons are entitled to five downloads per month per library card. This means that if your family has four people, then your family would get 20 downloads per month! You can download Hoopla directly from the Apple store or Google Play store and immediately signup using your library card number and your library pin. If you have any problems with the login, please contact the Arma City Library for assistance!

Our 2017 by the numbers!

2017 was a great year for us at the Arma City Library! Don’t believe me? It’s all in the numbers!

We welcome 62 new patrons to the Arma City Library!

1,751! That’s how many adults books our patrons checked out during the year!

4,227! (What an impressive number!) The total number of movies everyone checked out! That’s over 10,500 hours of our favorite stars!

885! The number of juvenile books checked out!

For a grand total of 7,264 books, movies, audiobooks, and games checked out in 2017!

Ever wonder how much money it saves you as a library patron?? We have the number!

In 2017 we saved our patrons $115,785.44!  

Here’s to a great 2018!

What does the Southeast Kansas Library System do for you?

There are many benefits to being a part of something bigger! Read on to learn how SEKLS benefits the library, and in turn, you!


A catalog/circulation system with similar capabilities would cost around $2,500 annually as a standalone system. Our cost is only $200 (what a deal) and gives you easy access to over 700,000 items, way more than what we could hold in our little library!

Tech Support

SEKLS tech staff visit our library regularly to keep things running and advise us on technical matters. During 2016 we received approximately 30 hours of tech support, valued at $75 per hour, a $169 value which means newer books and movies for you!


SEKLS library professionals provide consulting on a wide range of issues, from youth services to library policies to finances. During 2016 we used approximately 2.25 hours of consulting services valued at $75 per hour,  a $169 value!

Continuing Education

SEKLS provides a couple dozen continuing education opportunities for library staff and board members annually. During 2016, Arma staff received 24 hours of SEKLS continuing education.


We received a general operation grant, or allocation, from SEKLS in 2017 our allocation of $7,861.

Rotating Books

About ever six weeks, we get a new batch of books rotated in. During 2016, Arma users checked out 328 rotating books.

Summer Reading

Materials for the summer reading programs are distributed by SEKLS. SEKLS helped pay expenses for a summer performer to come to the library in each year from 2013 to 2017.

APPLE Training

Applied Public Library Education (APPLE,) a joint project of SEKLS and five other regional library systems, provides basic library education. Library directed Brenda Banks (yay, Brenda!) received her APPLE certification in 2014.

Courier Service

Fast and efficient sharing of library materials is made possible by the Kansas Library Express. Our annual cost of $150 was offset by an $800 grant from SEKLS.

Other Grants

SEKLS offers additional grants annually. In recent years, we acquired a new patron use computer, 52 new books to our Westerns collection, and our color copier.


How safe are your passwords?

In the digital world we live in our social media profiles, banking information, even our medical files can be accessed anywhere in seconds wherever you have an internet connection. But how safe is your information? This article gives tips and tricks to make sure your most private information, stays, well, private. Taken from an article by Nick Berry, data scientist at Facebook.

Dual Factor

If possible, Berry says, have a dual-factor authentication. When set up it works like a double check system to assure that you are who you say you are when you log in. For example, if you set up Code Generator on Facebook, a random code will be sent to a separate device, such as your smartphone and you will only be able to log in if you had that short code. Fingerprint authentication on smartphones is always another smart way to go, by requiring not only a PIN or a password but also a scan of your index or thumb print it adds an even more secure level of protection.

Make it ObsKur3

If dual factor isn’t available, choose a strong password for each service, Berry writes. So if one of your services are cracked, such as social media, the rest of your accounts, such as your banking services, will but locked down tight. If you have trouble remembering passwords for each service, there are password managers available can be used to keep track of all your complex and various passwords. Click here to explore the best password managers of 2018.

Write it Down

If digital password managers don’t appeal to you, or you prefer the feel of paper and pencil, Berry suggests old fashioned paper may be the way to go. Most hackers are remotely based and have no idea who you are, let alone that you have every password written in a pink Hello Kitty notebook you bought at Dollar General for $2. And unless a cyber thief is setting out to steal your information, if you experience a break in, the criminal is going to be more concerned with your television, credit cards, and jewelry than your Hello Kitty notebook.

Pay Extra Attention to Protecting Your Main Email Account with an Impenetrable Password

Do you have one email you use for everything? Online bill pay, social media accounts, etc.? Email account password recovery is getting more and more complex, so you’ll only be doing yourself a favor if you make sure your email is one of the most complex passwords in your arsenal.

Use Fake Answers

If you use those “secret questions,” Berry suggests using bogus answers–but ones you’ll remember. Hackers can easily find the name of your cat (We see all those Facebook posts with Fluffy in the sailor outfit) so strive to be creative, but in a way that you can remember, remember that Hello Kitty notebook? Jot that down as well.

Don’t Save Your Password

Some services let you save your passwords so you don’t have to keep typing it in. While this adds a level of convenience for you, it also adds a level of convenience for someone else who hops on your computer or your smartphone. One of the most dangerous sites to have this setting used on is your main email. Imagine the damage someone could do if they went to your banking service, clicked that little lost password link and had a new password sent to your email.

Set Up a Burner

Don’t enter any personal information into sites you don’t trust. Berry suggests using a “burner” account name, an email account you don’t care about. Bonus tip, this is also handy to do to handle ads or promotions from sites you don’t use regularly but love a good deal, it keeps your regular email from being bogged down but also gives you access to promo codes and sales.

And, of course, Berry says, never, ever, tell anyone (this includes your best friend, spouse, dog, or cat) your passwords.