United By Common Goal, Hunger Organizations Are Now One

United by a common goal to fight hunger in Arkansas, the Arkansas Foodbank and Arkansas Rice Depot have joined together as one organization to better fulfill their shared mission of providing hungry Arkansans with more healthy and nutritious food.

On March 30th, board members, volunteers, donors, guests and staff came together to recognize the organizations’ successful histories and celebrate this momentous partnership. U.S. Senator John Boozman was the featured speaker. While the name remains Arkansas Foodbank, CEO Rhonda Sanders unveiled a new brand image and theme, United to Fight Hunger, which honors the legacy of the Arkansas Rice Depot and is reflective of the new Arkansas Foodbank’s mission. “Both organizations have long defined success as increasing the quality and quantity of food delivered to hungry Arkansans. Together, we will find solutions to achieve our shared goal of fighting hunger in our state,” said Cal McCastlain, former Rice Depot and current Foodbank board member.

“By coming together, we will improve upon what each organization did well and use our collective expertise to implement new and innovative programming focused on serving hungry Arkansans with more healthy and nutritious food,” said Jordan Johnson, Arkansas Foodbank board chairman.

Arkansas leads the nation with more than 26 percent of seniors facing food insecurity. The state is also ranked as one of the worst in the country for child hunger with more than one in four children not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

"Arkansas is a leader in agriculture but our citizens continue to suffer from hunger. As Arkansans we need to make sure our neighbors are getting the food they need and eating healthy. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress, through existing federal programs and agencies, and most importantly, our local hunger relief networks to fight hunger and malnourishment. Our state is rightfully proud of the proactive efforts of the Arkansas Foodbank and Arkansas Rice Depot to fight hunger in our state,” said Senator John Boozman.

In just two months, the new organization has already distributed 3.25 million meals!

Last year, the Arkansas Foodbank and Arkansas Rice Depot distributed about 25 million pounds of food to agencies that help feed the hungry. The new organization will continue existing programs such as Food For Kids, Food For Families and Food For Seniors that reach school-aged children, college students, families and seniors. The new organization will continue to utilize both facilities, with the Arkansas Rice Depot building serving as the primary point for volunteer activities, food sorting and the Food For Kids backpack program. The Arkansas Foodbank location will serve as the food distribution center to all its partner agencies.

The Arkansas Foodbank wishes to acknowledge the generous support from the following foundations that helped make this merger possible:

Donald W. Reynolds Foundation

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it has committed almost $70 million in support of food banks in Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma.

Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

For 40 years, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has worked to make a difference by helping to build and sustain the organizations that serve and strengthen Arkansas. Through grantmaking and strategic partnerships, WRF is working even harder to help close the economic and educational gaps that leave too many Arkansas families in persistent poverty. Working together, the needle can and must move from poverty to prosperity for all Arkansans. For more information on the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, go to www.wrfoundation.org.

Lodestar Foundation

The Lodestar Foundation is a grantmaking organization from Phoenix, Arizona devoted to maximizing the growth and impact of philanthropy and provides funds nationally and internationally to organizations that support its mission. The Lodestar Foundation congratulates the Arkansas Foodbank and Rice Depot on their merger.  We are pleased to support this exemplary collaboration.

Please visit www.lodestarfoundation.org for more information.

Here is what others had to say about the merger:

Our collective wellbeing is impacted when any person – man, woman or child, goes hungry. Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has been a supporter of the Arkansas Foodbank because of their capacity to acquire and distribute food to agencies around the state, and for implementing innovative approaches to addressing the root causes of hunger. The partnering of the Arkansas Foodbank and Arkansas Rice Depot is cause for celebration. Working as one, the new organization will be stronger and better able to serve those in need.
— Sherece West-Scantlebury, President and CEO, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
River City Ministry’s mission calls for us to feed, clothe, shelter, and love those in need. For years, both the Arkansas Food Bank and Arkansas Rice Depot have assisted us in achieving this mission. We are confident going forward that the new Arkansas Food Bank will continue to meet our needs in assisting our clients, which allows us to operate a food pantry and serve a hot meal every day. This ultimately allows us a greater focus on the other mission areas that our clients desperately need.
— Ebony Kimbrough, River City Ministry
As the only food pantry in Marianna, Delta Dream is meeting a great need in our community. The Food For Kids backpack program is a blessing and makes such a difference in children’s lives. We are grateful this program will continue and are excited about what the future holds for Arkansas Foodbank.
— Evelyn Shackleford, Delta Dream Food Pantry
I truly believe by working together, the Arkansas Foodbank and Arkansas Rice Depot have created an entity that will better serve agencies like ours. I know firsthand that good things happen when people work together - Hope’s Closet is a testament to that. Now that they are united, it will only strengthen their mission, which has always been to end hunger in our state.
— Kim Buchberger, Hope’s Closet and Food Pantry