Rice donation to reach all of Arkansas
The Arkansas Rice Federation will donate 240,000 pounds of milled rice to the the state's largest food bank.
- The donation, equal to about 1.8 million servings, was announced Wednesday at the Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock.
Driving the news: September is Hunger Action Month, National Rice Month and was proclaimed Arkansas Rice Month by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday.
- The state produces roughly half of the 16 billion pounds of rice grown in the U.S. annually.
- The grain is one of the top staples that Feeding America recommends for donations to food pantries, along with peanut butter, pasta and canned goods.
Why it matters: Feeding America estimates nearly 470,000 Arkansans — or 15% of the state's population — battle food insecurity.
- About 135,000 of those are children.
Zoom in: Benton and Saline counties had the lowest levels of food insecurity during 2021 at 10.7% and 11.3%, respectively.
- 13.4% of people living in Washington County struggled with hunger that year.
What they're saying: "Food banks have really been squeezed, so this incredible donation could not have come at a better time," Brian Burton, CEO of Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock said at a news conference.
- Inflation and lingering supply chain issues, along with slowed government commodities tied to pandemic relief, have made sourcing food more difficult, he said.
- The donation will be distributed to all four Feeding America Food Banks in the state — including the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank — and will reach people in all 75 counties.
Of note: Tyson Foods said it would donate $2.5 million to support Feeding America this month.
- The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank accepts volunteers for various parts of its operations — learn more and apply.
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