About The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, established in 2004, is a non-profit umbrella organization representing a network of Feeding America food banks and hunger relief organizations around the state. We work with local and national non-profit organizations as well as state and federal agencies in implementing programs designed to increase access to food and teach low income Arkansans the skills they need to make healthy food choices. We are also active in helping shape policy decisions impacting hunger in our state and in raising awareness of the educational, economic and social consequences of hunger.
The impact of our work has gained local and national recognition. The Alliance was named one of the three top non-profits by AY Magazine, a finalist for 2015 Arkansas Business Non-profit of the Year and Runner-up for Best Local Charity and Best Local Charity Event in the Arkansas Times Best of Arkansas 2014 reader survey. The Alliance was cited in the National Commission on Hunger’s final report to the US Congress for our innovative approaches to reducing hunger.
Our Commitment is Our Strength
The Alliance includes Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock, the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in Jonesboro, Harvest Regional Food Bank in Texarkana, Food Bank of North Central Arkansas in Norfork, Northwest Arkansas Food Bank in Bethel Heights, River Valley Regional Food Bank in Fort Smith and more than 400 local food pantries, soup kitchens, food rescue organizations, global food wholesalers and retailers, state level hunger programs and hunger advocates from around the state. Together we represent the best hope our state has for eliminating hunger and the economic, social and educational problems it causes.
Our Programs Make A Difference
Fighting hunger is a multi-dimensional challenge. The Alliance seeks to make nutritious food available to low-income children and families where they live, where they work, where they play and where they learn.
The impact of our work has gained local and national recognition. The Alliance was a finalist for 2015 Arkansas Business Non-profit of the Year and Runner-up for Best Local Charity and Best Local Charity Event in the Arkansas Times Best of Arkansas 2014 reader survey. The Alliance was cited in the National Commission on Hunger’s final report to the US Congress for our innovative approaches to reducing hunger.
Through our purchasing, donations and logistics programs the Alliance is able to secure food from state and national food suppliers for distribution to member food banks.
Gleaning is the biblical practice of hand-gathering crops left after harvest. The Alliance and Society of St. Andrew volunteers glean fields and orchards donated by growers. The fresh produce goes to food banks, local pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.
The Alliance helps identify Arkansans who are eligible for SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) but are not currently enrolled. SNAP benefits help Arkansas seniors, veterans, children and families who are struggling to keep food on their tables. SNAP benefits also provide significant economic stimulus to local economies.
The Alliance’s Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign staff works with school districts and individual schools across the state to introduce Breakfast-After-the-Bell models that make breakfast part of the school day and insure more children get a nutritious breakfast every morning so they begin their days alert and ready to learn.
We connect churches, schools, boys and girls clubs and other organizations that focus on youth with the resources they need to provide meals to children when school is not in session. Additional capacity building grants from our national partner Share Our Strength, help sponsors serve more children and build sustainable programs.
Children are especially vulnerable to food insecurity in the summer months. Our staff identifies organizations that are currently feeding children or want to start a feeding program and helps them apply for the USDA funded Summer Meal Service Program. The Summer Meals Program provides meals to children in safe, supervised locations.
Cooking Matters, an innovative nutrition education program offering 6-week Signature Courses, teaches individuals and families the skills they need to cook healthy meals and get the most from their food budgets.
These nutrition education programs teach low income individuals and families the skills they need to plan and shop for economical, healthy meals on a budget. These empowering programs have been shown to have the potential of reducing a participant’s likelihood of remaining food insecure by as much as 50 percent.
Food policy plays a critical role in increasing access to adequate food. The Alliance works with state and national leaders in crafting legislation that will make access to healthy food and nutrition education available to Arkansas seniors, children and families.
The Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign—for which the Alliance is lead partner—works to increase participation in USDA child nutrition programs such as National School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program to insure low-income children get the nutrition they need year around.
- As of January 2017, the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign had helped more than 500 Arkansas schools make breakfast part of the school day. Teachers, principals, superintendents and child nutrition directors tell us they are seeing improved attendance, fewer behavior problems, fewer trips to the nurse and improved classroom attention. Breakfast as part of the school day removes the stigma and eliminates early arrival transportation hardships.
- Arkansas now ranks #7 in the nation in the percentage of students who participate in the school breakfast program, realizing an increase of 2.8% over the 2014-2015 school year, and a steady improvement from our #12 ranking in 2012/13.
- 63.5 % of qualified free/reduced price students (up from 61.8% in 2014-2015) are now eating school breakfast.
- In 2016, the work of the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign and our stakeholders resulted in 182 sponsor organizations serving meals at 1,044 sites across the state.
- Children who depend on school breakfast and lunch are at risk during the summer when school is not in session. During the summer of 2016, more than 2.4 million meals were served to Arkansas kids.
- In 2016, 3.7 million afterschool meals were served to children who might not have otherwise had dinner. That is an increase of 21,185 meals over the previous year.
- In 2016, Cooking Matters classes and grocery store tours reached more than 9,000 Arkansans, and remains an active partner in the Arkansas Governor’s Healthy,Active Arkansas 10-Year Plan to improve the health of every Arkansan.
ARKANSAS HUNGER FACTS
426,000 (14% or 1 in 7 people)
In families with children 71%
In families with elderly or disabled 35%
In working families 40%
Eligible persons receiving benefits 70%
People lifted out of poverty 111,000
Children kept out of poverty 55,000
Average monthly benefit $113
Average benefit per person per meal $1.26
People Living Below the Poverty Line**
*Map the Meal Gap, Feeding America, 2016
**Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January, 2017