The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is a collaborative organization that works on behalf of and with Arkansans facing hunger.
Mission & History
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the alliance: A History
In 2001, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation awarded funding to examine and improve the existing charitable food distribution system in Arkansas. The hunger-relief organizations in the state were identified and contacted by the Reynolds Foundation to determine their interest and willingness to work together to build a coordinated food distribution system. In 2004, our six founding members, the Arkansas Foodbank, Food Bank of North Central Arkansas, Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Harvest Regional Food Bank, River Valley Regional Food Bank and the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, with the assistance of a 3-year start-up grant from the Reynolds Foundation, formally incorporated the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance in the state of Arkansas. In 2008, the Arkansas Hunger Coalition merged with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, thus expanding the scope of the Alliance’s work into issues of advocacy and anti-hunger policy.
We are accomplishing our goal by:
advocating on food policy
Advocating on food policy issues that are contributing to and resulting from hunger.
INCREASING BREAKFAST PARTICIPATION
Encouraging schools to increase their breakfast participation by introducing Breakfast After the Bell programs that make breakfast part of the school day and have real benefits for students.
securing food & funding
Securing food and funding to assist our members in meeting the needs of people in their service areas.
PROMOTING NUTRITION EDUCATION
Promoting nutrition education programs that empower low-income Arkansans with the skills they need to make healthy food choices, prepare nutritious meals and get more from their food dollars.
Making sure that those Arkansans who qualify for food assistance programs are enrolled and receiving the benefits these programs provide.
SOURCING NUTRITIOUS FOOD
Building reliable, sustainable sources of nutritious food for the hungry in Arkansas.
INCREASING OUT OF SCHOOL MEALS PARTICIPATION
Encouraging schools and community organizations to develop educational enrichment aspects of their programs, improve their capacity to serve more children, and create sustainable programs that provide meals to children outside of school hours and throughout the summer months.
Raising awareness of the economic, academic and social impact hunger has on our state.
as a leader:
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance works with local, state and federal organizations to keep food on the tables of our fellow Arkansans who need it most and help shape public policy decisions that impact hunger in our state.
Mounting research shows that students who eat a nutritious breakfast start the day focused and ready to learn. To increase the number of Arkansas students eating school breakfast, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance worked with the Arkansas Legislature to initiate the Arkansas Meals for Achievement (AMFA) pilot grant program (Act 383 of 2013) that provided grants to public schools choosing to serve breakfast after the bell to all students at no charge. The grants complemented federal school lunch funding and supplemented the cost of providing a free breakfast to all students. The USDA Community Eligibility Provision, which allows high-need schools to feed all students at no charge, supplanted the extension of Arkansas Meals for Achievement, which had shown that feeding all students at no charge did, indeed, increase participation in the school breakfast program.
The Alliance was asked to provide testimony before the National Commission on Hunger in May of 2015.
The 10-member National Commission on Hunger is a congressionally appointed bi-partisan commission charged with developing innovative reforms in both public and private food assistance programs to reduce or eliminate very low food security. The recommendations are meant to include ways to more effectively use federal programs and funds. As part of its information gathering process, the Commission conducted public hearings across the country. In the committee’s mandated report to Congress, the Alliance was recognized as a leader in implementing effective strategies to relieve hunger in the state.
Today, the Alliance includes more than 500 members including our original six Feeding America food bank members, local food pantries, soup kitchens, food rescue organizations, global food wholesalers and retailers, state level hunger programs and hunger advocates from around the state who are working daily to reduce hunger in Arkansas.
as a partner:
No Kid Hungry
In 2010, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and Share Our Strength, a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America, joined with Governor Mike Beebe and First Lady Ginger Beebe to launch the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign, a public-private partnership working to end childhood hunger in Arkansas. With generous support from Share Our Strength, the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign is connecting Arkansas children to federal food and nutrition programs including National School Breakfast, Summer Meals and Afterschool meals programs, and families to nutrition education through Cooking Matters and Cooking Matters at the Store, as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Our efforts are making a difference. Our efforts are making a difference, thanks to an ongoing partnership with Governor Asa Hutchinson and his administrative team. More children from low-income families are receiving nutritious food than ever before.
FOOD RESEARCH AND ACTION CENTER
The Alliance enjoys a longstanding relationship with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. FRAC provides training, technical assistance and support on nutrition and anti-poverty issues, conducts research that documents the extent of hunger, its impact and effective solutions, and monitors the implementation of laws. FRAC takes a leadership position in educating the public about hunger issues and advancing policy solutions.
MAZON: A JEWISH RESPONSE TO HUNGER
The Alliance has partnered with MAZON on issues of anti-hunger advocacy, and a grant from MAZON allowed the Alliance to hire a full-time advocacy director. MAZON provides funding, training and resources to nonprofit organizations in the United States and Israel who share their commitment to advocating to end hunger.
HUNGER FREE COMMUNITY NETWORK
The Alliance is a member of the Hunger Free Communities Network, a unique organization providing a nationwide platform and clearinghouse for those active in local anti-hunger work to connect with one another, learn from each other’s best practices, and access resources from across the local and national anti-hunger community.
The Alliance is part of the Natural Wonders Partnership Council, a coalition of organizations working together to improve the health of all the children in Arkansas. The Natural Wonders Partnership Council members have identified priority areas effecting children’s health and are working strategically to impact: Access to Quality Care and Prevention, Childhood Obesity, Metal Health & Substance Use, Reproductive Health, Social Issues, Parenting Support, Oral Health, Food Security, Child Injury and Immunization.
ForwARd Arkansas is a public-private partnership established in 2014 by the Arkansas State Board of Education, the Walton Family Foundation and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to increase equity and achieve increases in student achievement and economic prosperity for Arkansas.
healthy active arkansas
Healthy Active Arkansas is a nonprofit whose mission is to increase the number of children, adolescents and adults in Arkansas who are at a healthy weight. They focus on nine priority areas that affect health, and each of the nine areas has a team leader and members who are working on ways to help Arkansas communities, schools and the entire state be healthier, particularly when it comes to physical activity and nutrition.
the alliance today:
Through our public/private partnerships, we are connecting the dots between poverty, hunger and other aspects of life that keep low-income Arkansans stuck in a cycle of struggle. Un- and underemployment, children’s health, senior hospitalization, availability of healthcare, grade level reading, high school graduation rates, energy and housing assistance, wage inequality and so many other poverty-related issues directly impact the ability of families to put food on the table. As we act synergistically, we are able to have a greater impact on the lives of the food insecure people we serve.
Due to a history of structural racism and discriminatory policies against people of color in Arkansas and the United States, we acknowledge that existing racial disparities stand in the way of our goal of ending hunger. We are aware that communities of color need additional targeted support, and we commit as an organization to work towards that. Programming is only one aspect of our work that we must examine: using a racial equity lens when considering grants and committing to a more diverse Board and workplace, as well as engagement in internal and external conversations, are others. The Alliance is committed to working for public policy that roots out structural racism and ensures access to quality and affordable food.
the alliance, moving forward:
With the continued support of the many individuals, businesses, organizations as well as state and local government agencies across Arkansas who recognize the effects of hunger on our state’s economy and on our people, the Alliance will remain at the forefront of hunger relief, nutrition education, and advocacy. We will continue working to identify opportunities and partnerships like those we’ve established with Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Arkansas Hunters Feeding The Hungry, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Little Rock Park and Recreation, the Arkansas Legislative Hunger Caucus and others to bring reliable sources of food to the hungry of our state, and increase awareness that food insecurity contributes to many of the challenges our state faces. Working together we really can end hunger in the land of plenty.
Are You In Need?
We would like to help you find the resources you need.
The Alliance Alert goes out to members, advocates and others who want to stay up on hunger issues in Arkansas. See our latest newsletter.