As the economy struggles to recover and one in six Arkansans aren’t sure where their next meal will come from, Arkansas’s food banks have stepped up to help insure that no one goes hungry. Their combined efforts in 2013 put an astonishing 33,648,363 meals into our communities. That’s an increase of more than 5.5 million meals over 2012 and more than 9 million meals over 2010.
The seven Alliance member food banks are: Arkansas Foodbank in Little Rock, Harvest Texarkana in Texarkana, River Valley Regional Food Bank in Ft. Smith, Northwest Arkansas Food Bank in Bethel Heights, the Food Bank of North Central Arkansas in Norfork, the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in Jonesboro, and Project Hope in Hot Springs. Together, these regional food banks serve over 800 feeding agencies and programs (such as the Salvation Army, church food pantries or summer feeding programs) in all 75 counties of our state.
Where do they get the food?
Much of it comes from local and national donors. Companies large and small donate their overages or short dated product to help people and avoid waste. The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance operates several programs to assist the food banks with their food needs. These programs include the Arkansas Gleaning Project, food purchasing programs, the Spirit of Arkansas Food Drive, and national donation coordination. Sadly, as more of our friends and neighbors step into our lines for the first time, donor supplies are dwindling long before the need is met, and we have to purchase food. That’s what makes cash donations so important.With every dollar donated we are able to provide three meals!
Finding alternate sources of food is critical to maintaining the emergency food network. One of the most important programs― and one that has become a model for the rest of the nation― is The Arkansas Gleaning Project. Through this program we work with farmers and the Arkansas Department of Correction to pick unharvested produce for the charitable food distribution system. The operating cost of the program averages less than three cents per pound of produce harvested and provides healthy, nutritious food to Arkansans in need.
Feeding Arkansas’s hungry families and children is a big undertaking with serious consequences. We would appreciate your assistance and support. If you would like to help support the food purchase program or the Arkansas Gleaning Project, please visit our website at www.arhungeralliance.org or call the Alliance at 501.399.9999.