Food Banks in Arkansas Unite to Provide Additional Weekly Food Assistance to Low-Income Families with Children
TANF funding received to expand school pantries to increase access to food for families in Arkansas.
Little Rock, Ark. (Oct. 12, 2020) – Arkansas Foodbank recently announced the Emergency School Pantry Program in partnership with five other Feeding America foodbanks in Arkansas. The 36-week program will provide emergency food boxes to low-income families with children enrolled in a USDA children’s feeding program like Free and Reduced Lunch, Summer Feeding or Afterschool program.
“Nearly 25% of children in Arkansas belong to families struggling with food insecurity,” said Rhonda Sanders, Arkansas Foodbank CEO. “This funding provides a wonderful way to expand their access to nutritious food, especially during this time of extreme need. We’re grateful for this opportunity.”
In September 2020, Arkansas Foodbank received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding through the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services to reduce hunger through collaborative efforts. Administered by Arkansas Foodbank, the Emergency School Pantry Program will be implemented in partnership with Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Food Bank of North Central Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas Foodbank, Harvest Regional Food Bank and River Valley Regional Food Bank.
The six Feeding America food banks will identify up to 50 school districts to implement the Food Box Program on a local level. Some school districts will also partner with local community organizations to operate their pantry. Partner organizations will receive portions of the TANF funding to pay for food, staff support, delivery transportation and supplies or equipment necessary for food storage and distribution.
Arkansas Foodbank serves 33 of the state’s 75 counties and has already identified 13 school districts to serve as local food box providers:
- Batesville School District
- Boys and Girls Club of Drew County
- Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado
- Boys and Girls Club of Smackover-Norphlet
- Bradford School District
- Bryant Public Schools
- Caddo Hills School District
- Gurdon Public School District
- Guy-Perkins School District
- Heber Springs School District
- Mountain Pine School District
- Pine Bluff School District
The Arkansas Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was created to help families stay together by empowering family leaders with job skills, resources and assistance. While long-term food assistance for low income families is primarily provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), TANF can be used to provide additional funds to food banks and their partner agencies (pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, etc.) that assist low-income families. The additional funding to food banks increases their capacity to serve more families and assists families in meeting their basic needs.
“Arkansas is focused on making sure families impacted by COVID-19 and poverty have the assistance and resources they need,” said Phil Harris, ADWS Assistant Director-TANF. “We want these resources to be easy to access and available for all who need them, and partners like Arkansas Foodbank make that possible. We will continue working with our partners in government, non-profit, and the private sector to come together and support families in Arkansas.”
About Arkansas Division of Workforce Services / TANF
The TANF program is operated within the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (ADWS), a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce. TANF was created as part of the larger Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 and replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). It is focused on workforce development, supporting participants in their pursuit of employment and financial independence by providing transportation, childcare assistance, education, job training, employment opportunities, and other services. For more information on ADWS or the Arkansas TANF program, visit DWS.arkansas.gov.
About Arkansas Foodbank
Arkansas Foodbank, the largest hunger relief organization in Arkansas, offers innovative programming focused on serving hungry Arkansans with healthy and nutritious food. Programs like Food For Kids, Food For Families and Food For Seniors provide food and other resources for more than 400 food pantries, schools, shelters, senior centers and other agencies that directly aid hungry Arkansans. For information on how you can fight hunger, visit arkansasfoodbank.org. The Foodbank is a proud member of Feeding America and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.