By Rebekah Hall | Photography by Rett Peek | Hair & Makeup by Abby Blevins with Dry & Dash | Shot on location at The Brantley Farm
“You can make a difference in a lot of small ways, and essentially, a lot of small ways adding up is what really makes a large impact.”
In 2017, the Arkansas Foodbank distributed 26.5 million pounds of food throughout the state – the equivalent of about 22 million meals. This year, the need continues and the goal is to distribute 28 million pounds of food. Yet, Arkansas remains one of the hungriest states in the nation. Arkansas Foodbank Chief Development Officer Sarah Riffle explains that 1 in 5 Arkansans are unsure of how they’re going to put food on the table. “The statistics are even higher for the most vulnerable populations in our state,” Sarah emphasizes. With the staggering reality of 1 in 4 children and 1 in 4 seniors that are uncertain of their next meal, Sarah says that “to be able to fight that each and every day, it does have to be a year-round effort on behalf of the entire organization.”
Arkansas Foodbank works 365 days a year to combat food insecurity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Sarah explains that programs like the fresh produce initiative, which “aims to increase access to healthy, nutritious produce” for clients, helps reduce food insecurity in Arkansas.
The organization serves 33 of the 75 counties in Arkansas and has established 450 local partnerships across the state – including churches, soup kitchens, and more than 100 schools. This provides a strategic distribution network for food stored at the 75,000 square foot headquarters in Little Rock. “ Our partners are so crucial because they’re the ones in the communities with boots on the ground, meeting people and building relationships with clients,” Sarah says.
September is National Hunger Action month, and Hannah Howe along with her husband Jay O. will host the 3rd Annual Harvest Night. This family-friendly evening of fun invites guests to the organization’s warehouse. The carnival atmosphere includes live entertainment and a variety of activities for the kids.
Hannah’s community service dates back to her childhood – volunteering with her parents at the Main Street Mission in Russellville. She’s excited to see their efforts, as well as the work of the Harvest Night committee, come to fruition and generate support for the Arkansas Foodbank mission. “I encourage people to come out to see the facility, help give back to the community and support the great cause of the fight against hunger,” Hannah says. “Even if they haven’t been involved with the Foodbank before, it’s a good opportunity to see what it’s all about.”
Every dollar that the Arkansas Foodbank raises provides 5 meals to hungry Arkansans, and approximately 94 cents of every dollar that comes into the Foodbank goes directly into programming. “You can make a difference in a lot of small ways, and essentially, a lot of small ways adding up is what really makes a large impact,” Sarah says.