“Our mission is a unified effort to reduce hunger and improve access to nutritious food by providing tools and resources, empowerment, advocacy, education and research.”
We are accomplishing our goal by:
- Building reliable, sustainable sources of nutritious food for the hungry in Arkansas.
- Securing food and funding to assist our members in meeting the needs of people in their service areas.
- Making sure that those Arkansans who qualify for food assistance programs are enrolled and receiving the benefits these programs provide.
- 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.
- 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.
- Raising awareness of the economic, academic and social impact hunger has on our state.
- Advocating on food policy issues that are contributing to and resulting from hunger.
As a solution.
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 Texarkana 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.
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 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 helped initiate the Arkansas Meals for Achievement (AMFA) pilot grant program (Act 383 of 2013) that provides grants to public schools choosing to serve breakfast after the bell to all students at no charge. The grants complement federal school lunch funding and supplement the cost of providing a free breakfast to all students. Of the more than 200 applicants, a total of 32 schools have participated in the program in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 school years.
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 advance of their mandated report to Congress later this year.
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.
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 corporate partners, Walmart, Weight Watchers, Tyson Foods, and the Midwest Dairy Council, 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, Cooking Matters and Cooking Matters at the Store, as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). And our efforts are making a difference. More children from low-income families are receiving nutritious food than ever before.
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. As an Alliance funder, FRAC provides grant money to support our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach efforts.
The Alliance Today
- In 2014, our six Feeding America food bank members along with Project Hope distributed 44,032,106 pounds of food to programs and agencies that directly feed Arkansans in need. This is the equivalent of 36,693,421 meals.
- In 2015 the Alliance awarded more than $188,827.00 in grants to our member agencies to help them build their capacity to serve the increasing number of people who look to them for food assistance.
- The Arkansas Gleaning Project made 1.5 million pounds of fresh produce available to low income Arkansans.
- Our Arkansas No Kid Hungry team in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Human Services realized the largest increase in the nation in free summer meals served to children in 2013–1.6 million more. We have been able to maintain that level, serving more than 4 million meals to food insecure Arkansas children in the summer .
- We increased the number of Summer Meals feeding sites providing free meals to low-income children in safe, supervised locations across the state to 1,200.
- The Alliance awarded more than $187,000 in Share Our Strength/Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign grants to sponsor organizations that participated in the Summer Meals and/or Afterschool programs and more than $561,000 in grants to help Arkansas schools start Breakfast-After-the-Bell programs.
- The Alliance and our Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign partners increased the number of students in the state receiving Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab & Go or Second Chance Breakfast by more than 25,000 additional students per day and added an additional 150 schools to the program, bringing the total schools participating to 360 at the close of 2014.
- More than 5,650 Arkansas families were reached through Cooking Matters and Cooking Matters at the Store programs in 2014, bringing the total to more than 8,600 families since the program began in 2012.
The Alliance Going Forward
With the continued support of the many individuals, businesses and organizations 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 established with Arkansas Hunters Feeding The Hungry, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Legislative Hunger Caucus and others to bring reliable sources of food to the hungry of our state. Working together we really can end hunger in the land of plenty.