ABOUT THE MERGER WITH THE ARKANSAS FOODBANK
United by a common goal to fight hunger in Arkansas, the Arkansas Foodbank and Arkansas Rice Depot have joined together to better fulfill their shared mission of providing hungry Arkansans with more healthy and nutritious food. Mindful of our roots, the new organization will recognize the successful history and honor the legacy of both entities. Uniting the two organizations creates one that is stronger going forward and better able to serve those in need.
Simply put, this merger allows us to do what we have always done even better!
ARKANSAS RICE DEPOT HISTORY
In 1982, a few caring Arkansans noticed there were a lot of children, families, and senior citizens going to bed hungry right here in their home state. Many food pantries were struggling for supplies. The cupboard was bare at the shelters. Children were hungry. These people organized and looked for food, and they found rice. Home-grown, nourishing and inexpensive rice. They paid for it out of their own pockets and gave it to anyone in need. Soon word spread about this organization that provided free rice to any group willing to fight hunger in their community, and the Arkansas Rice Depot was born. Within a couple of years, nearly one hundred rice growers from Riceland and Producers mills were donating rice, and the Arkansas Rice Depot became the first nonprofit of its kind in the state.
This was just the kind of foundation the organization needed. By 1986, then-Governor Bill Clinton helped the Arkansas Rice Depot distribute its one millionth pound of rice. For a while, rice remained the only food distributed, and though nourishing, it wasn’t a complete meal. A Billy Graham Crusade changed all that. Six tons of food items were collected that year, and soon dry goods, canned foods, frozen meats and other items were donated, warehoused and distributed across the state.
In 1994, an Arkansas public school nurse noticed some children arriving at school listless and hungry. These children said their school lunch the day before was the last meal they had. The nurse wondered if the Arkansas Rice Depot could help. Arkansas Rice Depot responded immediately by launching the Food For Kids program, sending hungry children home with backpacks filled with food every weekend.
Ten years later, Arkansas Rice Depot recognized an unmet need among home-bound senior citizens. These individuals had a desire to prepare their own meals, but due to their age, health issues, and lack of transportation, found it difficult if not impossible to get to food pantries for assistance. In response, Arkansas Rice Depot created the Food For Seniors program. Over 50 pounds of food and supplies are delivered monthly to seniors by volunteers from the church community, providing not just food but a kind word, comfort, and the knowledge that someone cares.