A donation of rice to the Arkansas Rice Depot will provide more than a million servings across the state, helping combat an ongoing hunger problem, officials said Thursday.
Members of the Arkansas rice industry formally announced the donation at a ceremony outside the Rice Depot's headquarters in Little Rock. Officials stood in front of a portion of the donation spread among hundreds of large bags stacked atop pallets.
In total, the state's rice growers are providing 124,000 pounds of rice, which will ultimately be distributed to food pantries and school backpack programs across Arkansas. The donation will turn into 1.3 million servings.
"I can't imagine what we'd do" without the donation, said Laura Rhea, president and chief executive officer of the Rice Depot. "Because hunger unfortunately remains high in Arkansas. We are still leading the nation. That is not a statistic we want, to know that more people in Arkansas, more children in Arkansas, are facing hunger."
The donation is the group's largest donation of the year and a full 15,000 pounds more than the Rice Council gave last year.
The Rice Depot each year gives away about 9 million pounds of food, including but not limited to rice, and in 2012 served more than 460,000 Arkansans.