“Our mission is to provide 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 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 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.
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.
The Alliance Going 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.