The Arkansas rice industry donated 169,700 pounds of rice to the Arkansas Foodbank in honor of National Rice Month on Tuesday.
Participating rice mills are Windmill Rice Company of Jonesboro, Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart, Producers Rice Mill of Stuttgart, Riviana Foods of Carlisle, Ralston Family Farms of Atkins and Specialty Rice Inc. of Brinkley.
The donation will provide more than 1.27 million servings of rice to help feed families, children, and seniors all across the state, according to a news release from Arkansas Rice.
"Arkansas rice farmers grow over 50% of the nation's total crop and will produce rice on approximately 1.2 million acres this year in over 40 counties, many of which are served by the Arkansas Foodbank," said Arkansas Rice Council President Dow Brantley. "As rice harvest continues, we, as farmers, try to be good stewards by giving a portion of our crop to hunger relief efforts."
September is also Hunger Action Month. Arkansas ranks second in the nation for food insecurity, and Feeding America projects that 11% more Arkansans are experiencing hunger since the start of the pandemic – totaling nearly 532,000 people today. That number includes 1 in 4 children who may not have enough to eat. This rice donation will go into weekend backpacks for children, food boxes for homebound seniors and will fill shelves at food pantries for families in need, according to the release.
The rice will be distributed to Feeding America network food banks: River Valley Regional Food Bank at Fort Smith; Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas at Jonesboro; Harvest Regional Food Bank at Texarkana; Arkansas Foodbank at Little Rock; and Northwest Arkansas Food Bank at Springdale.
"Arkansas rice farmers play a crucial role in the fight against hunger," said Rhonda Sanders, Arkansas Foodbank chief executive officer. "We're so grateful for their partnership and support as we provide nutritious food to Arkansans facing hunger.
"Food shouldn't be an impossible choice, and this incredible donation comes at a pivotal time as Arkansas Foodbank and the other Feeding America food banks in our state are working to provide food to our neighbors struggling right now," Sanders said.