Student determined to solve childhood hunger after visiting Food Bank for the Heartland

40 Faces of 40 Years Coleman Warren

Coleman Warren is an accomplished young man.  The 22-year-old University of Arkansas honors student—who double majored in industrial engineering and political science—was recently named a 2022 Rhodes Scholar for graduate study at Oxford University. Coleman plans to pursue a Master of Philosophy in comparative social policy to analyze childhood hunger and its impacts on development.  

Along with his academic successes, Coleman is also a successful entrepreneur. He started his own business in 2020—an ice cream truck called Sweet + Simple Creamery—which donates 100% of its proceeds to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.

Whether professional or academic, Coleman says his success can be traced back to the summer of 2019, when he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and found himself stationed at Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I was assigned to the Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen program. Getting to know these children and learning about their lack of access to food changed everything for me,” says Coleman. “My experience in Omaha was transformational to who I am today. It made me think, “Who am I? What am I doing? And how am I helping?” It changed the way I saw the world and my place in it.”

Upon returning home, the research began. He quickly learned his home state of Arkansas was one of the most food insecure states in the country. From there, his passion ignited. “My mind was racing. I wanted to learn as much as I could about what was being done for childhood hunger. I was trying to figure out what in the world was I going to do to help solve this issue in my community.”

As Coleman planned his next steps, his mind wandered back to Omaha. “I have so many wonderful memories. The food was delicious—but what stuck with me was the ice cream—specifically Ted & Wally’s & Coneflower Creamery. I had never had anything like that before.”

The idea came to him one day in class—he would create a high-quality ice cream truck to help combat childhood hunger. To date, the proceeds have provided 35,000 meals to the Northern Arkansas Food Bank. The plan is to eventually scale and grow the company with a long-term goal of donating 25% of all proceeds to the local food bank.

As he sets his sights on Oxford, Coleman’s passion for public service has only intensified.

“My time at Oxford will be spent studying comparative social policy, which will help me develop a framework for how we create change across the country and in my home state—where kids would have access to healthy food, economic opportunity, and all the resources they need.”

While his work is focused on alleviating childhood hunger in Arkansas, Coleman is forever grateful to the community of Omaha and those who helped him along the way. “During my time there I stayed with two wonderful people named Roberta and Anthony. They helped me realize what makes the Heartland so great—the people are kind, they openly give back to those around them, and they are just joyful people to be around.”

Regardless of where life takes him next, Coleman is determined to bring that Heartland spirit into everything he does. “The summer I spent living in Omaha was one of the most joyful summers of my life, and since that experience, I’ve done everything I can to pursue that level of joy in the work I’m doing here, to try and make this community better.”

We have no doubt that Coleman Warren will do just that and more.