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The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is a nonprofit collaborative network of more than 400 hunger relief organizations across Arkansas working to alleviate hunger in the state. Members include the Arkansas Foodbank in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in Jonesboro (Craighead County), Harvest Texarkana Regional Food Bank in Texarkana (Miller County), Food Bank of North Central Arkansas in Norfork (Baxter County), Northwest Arkansas Food Bank in Bethel Heights (Benton County), and River Valley Regional Food Bank in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), as well as numerous food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.
Arkansas has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation. More than twenty-eight percent of Arkansas families with children experience food insecurity on a regular basis. Of families without children, over nineteen percent may not know how they will obtain their next meal.
In 2001, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation awarded funds 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 willingness to work together to build a coordinated food distribution system. In 2004, six founding members—the Arkansas Foodbank, Food Bank of North Central Arkansas, Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Harvest Texarkana Regional Food Bank, River Valley Regional Food Bank, and Northwest Arkansas Food Bank—formally incorporated the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, with the assistance of a three-year start-up grant from the Reynolds Foundation. Since that time, membership has grown to more than 400 hunger agencies, advocates, and supporters throughout Arkansas.
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance takes a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to alleviating hunger, with work focusing on: 1) advocating for low food prices and better food policy; 2) maintaining a reliable emergency food supply for member agencies through the Arkansas Gleaning Project and various food purchase programs, as well as the Spirit of Arkansas Food Drive and other bulk food acquisition sources; 3) helping Arkansans who are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps) enroll in the program and receive the assistance they need to feed themselves and their families; 4) increasing access to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition resources such as the Summer Food Service Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program for those in need through the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign; and 5) empowering low-income adults with skills they need to shop for and prepare nutritious, low-cost meals on a budget through the Cooking Matters and Cooking Matters at the Store programs.
Alliance headquarters are located in Union Station on West Markham in Little Rock. As the alliance’s work expanded to include lead partnership in the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign, so did its staff. As of 2014, the staff includes nineteen employees, two AmeriCorps VISTA members, and one AmeriCorps Direct member. The work of the alliance is funded through grants from national nonprofits such as Share Our Strength and the Food Research and Action Center, annual membership fees, and corporate and private donations, as well as local fundraising efforts.
For additional information:Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. http://www.arhungeralliance.org/ (accessed April 1, 2014).
“Ending Hunger in America–2014 Hunger Report.” Bread for the World. http://files.bread.org/institute/hr14/hunger-report-2014.pdf (accessed March 25, 2014).
Nancy ConleyArkansas Hunger Relief Alliance
Last Updated 4/8/2014
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