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State leaders, child-nutrition advocates, hunger relief agencies and corporate partners gathered to launch the “No Kid Hungry in Arkansas” campaign, aimed at ending childhood hunger in the state. The effort was initiated by Gov. Mike Beebe, in cooperation with national hunger relief organization Share Our Strength and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. At the event, corporate partners and Arkansas businesses Tyson Foods Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. revealed significant gifts to help kick-start the campaign.
This week, Springdale-based Tyson is donating a truckload to each of the six major food banks across the state: Arkansas Foodbank Network and the Rice Depot in Little Rock, Northwest Arkansas Food Bank in Lowell, River Valley Food Bank in Fort Smith, Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in Jonesboro, and Harvest Texarkana Regional Food Bank. The six truckloads of food totaled more than 180,000 pounds. The donation is part of more than 1 million pounds of food Tyson is donating to mark its 10th anniversary of formal involvement in hunger relief.
Bentonville-based Walmart committed a cash donation of $150,000 to assist in funding the initiative going forward.
“We’re glad to have the opportunity to support the good work of many long-time partners, including Share Our Strength and the tremendous hunger relief community in Arkansas, to address a problem that shouldn’t exist in any state,” said Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson.
The No Kid Hungry in Arkansas program will focus on children at risk for hunger and increase participation in highly effective but underused federal food and nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP — formerly known as Food Stamps), the Summer Food Service Program, and School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
By increasing participation in these programs, the campaign will bring additional federal funds to Arkansas and help stimulate the local economy.
Currently, Arkansas has the highest rate of childhood food insecurity in the nation, and 25 percent of children live below the poverty line. Yet only 54 percent of low-income students in the state eat breakfast at school for every 100 who participate in the school lunch program, and only about 11 percent of low-income students participate in summer nutrition programs.