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Arkansas Food Bank desperate for donations as government assistance programs end



Arkansas – It’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” but for 600,000 Arkansans this year, the one thing they really need is something you won’t likely find under a tree.

“We know that our clients choose between presents and gifts, and food, they choose between medical bills and food, they choose between paying their rent and food,” said Rhonda Sanders, CEO of the Arkansas Food Bank.

In the Arkansas Foodbank service area, over 300,000 people are depending on help right now. It was approximately 245,000 before the pandemic.

In the state, approximately 500,000 were depending on assistance from one of the Feeding America Food Banks in Arkansas before the pandemic. It is now over 600,000 in need.

The Waitr App has formed an initiative called the “Bite Squad,” teaming up with local restaurants to help meet the increase in need. Bite Squad has partnered with these area restaurants for the food drive: Grady’s Pizza & Subs (10901 N. Rodney Parham Rd in Little Rock); The Mean Pig BBQ (3096 Bill Foster Memorial Hwy in Cabot); American Pie (9709 Maumelle Blvd in North Little Rock); Mama’s Gyros (3309 E Kiehl Ave in Sherwood).

Items can be dropped off in the donation bins at each participating partner beginning today through December 23, during their regular business hours. You can also drop donations off at Bite Squad’s office (4801 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock) Monday-Friday from 11:00am-3:00pm. Bite Squad will then deliver all the collected food items to area food banks.

The most-needed food bank items include proteins (canned tuna, dried or canned beans, soup, peanut butter), grains (high-fiber cereal, oatmeal, pasta, rice), canned fruits and vegetables, and bottled water.

Tommy Angelle with Bite Squad said they want to give back and do what they do best-feed the hungry.

“My hope for the campaign is that we put a bunch of smiles on people’s faces, we put smiles through food in their bellies, but I want to make sure we put smile on their faces and smile on the kid’s faces and make sure everyone has a safe happy and not going hungry holiday season,” Angelle said.

The Arkansas Foodbank serves 33 counties across Central and Southeastern Arkansas, which are also seeing the impact of COVID-19. Last year, they distributed 29 million pounds of food. This year, they’re looking at distributing anywhere between 40 + million.

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