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Arkansas Legislators Served Red Beans and Rice

Arkansas legislators are being served a lunch of red beans and rice for "Hunger Day" at the Capitol. Hunger relief agency workers will also be on hand to discuss the state's consistently high food insecurity rates. Credit: Arnold Gatilao/Wikimedia Commons
Arkansas legislators are being served a lunch of red beans and rice for "Hunger Day" at the Capitol. Hunger relief agency workers will also be on hand to discuss the state's consistently high food insecurity rates. Credit: Arnold Gatilao/Wikimedia Commons
January 21, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas legislators are being served a lunch of red beans and rice, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches today for "Hunger Day" at the Capitol. That's a meal Arkansans dependent on food banks or soup kitchens are likely to eat for dinner, according to Nancy Conley, communications director at the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.

Hunger relief agency workers from around the state will be on hand to talk with lawmakers about hunger issues, and Conley feels those issues are not well understood.

"People still don't really understand that about one in five, one in six, people in Arkansas are hungry," she says. "They're just surprised how desperate, really, things in Arkansas are for low-income people."

She says the state ranks consistently among the highest in the nation for food insecurity, and the Legislature will be making decisions about funding for hunger relief programs this year.

Conley points to a bright spot for progress in fighting hunger.

"In childhood hunger, we have moved from first in the country, which is not a good place to be, in 2010, and now we're seventh," she says. "We actually are making some progress, but not much on a statewide level."

A $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation is being presented to the alliance today, to fund the Arkansas Gleaning Project and the new Arkansas Beef Project.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR