Arkansas children, seniors and families experiencing food insecurity will soon have some relief from the state.
On October 16, the Arkansas Legislative Committee (ALC), which serves as a stand-in for the legislature when it is out of session, authorized a request from the Arkansas Department of Human Services to allocate $1.8 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to go to Statewide Critical Direct Feeding Services for Children, Elderly, and Families. Congress passed the CARES Act in March with overwhelming support to help those who have been most severely impacted by the coronavirus.
“We are so grateful to continue seeing funding come in for those who need it most,” said Dave Oberembt, a government relations director for the American Heart Association. “A big thank you to all the advocates that took action to urge support for helping those in Arkansas that need it most!”
The money will be distributed through the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, which operates the state’s food banks. Arkansas has six regional food banks that act as distribution hubs to all 75 counties and provide food to county food pantries and soup kitchens. The Hunger Relief Alliance has seen a 40% increase in the need for food assistance from across Arkansas since the start of the pandemic. In some counties, the need has increased by 100%.
The $1.8 million allocation to direct feeding is part of a larger $100 million relief package for people in the state. For example, an additional $4 million will go toward rent assistance and another $5 million will help nonprofits provide direct COVID-19 assistance.
“Thousands of Arkansans are out of work; the pandemic has disproportionately impacted some of our neighbors more than others, including people of color, low-income Arkansans and those in high-risk jobs where they face potential exposure on a daily basis,” said Oberembt. “Together, we are helping Arkansans overcome some of the challenges due to the pandemic and be a relentless force for building longer, healthier lives in our state.”