A challenge to Faulkner County

Hunger has become such a clichéd cause that most of us never stop and try to understand what living with that constant struggle would feel like. Unless you have been personally touched by hunger and poverty, it often ceases to have any real meaning. Sure, you see the commercials showing children somewhere across the Atlantic living on “less than $1 a day,” but it’s always somewhere else, somebody else’s kids. 

What we aren’t told is that people living right here in our community struggle every single day with hunger and food insecurity. Food insecurity is a little different than the starvation felt most significantly in developing countries — it refers to “physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.” Often, living on cheap and unhealthy food is not a choice or a result of laziness, but instead a result of circumstances and a lack of opportunity. 

According to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and the USDA:

Arkansas has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country. Currently 19.2 percent of Arkansas families experience food insecurity, with an additional 7.6 percent experiencing very low food security. That means more than one of every four families in the state has trouble finding enough food to feed their families. 

Food insecurity is not a difficult problem to solve, but it requires that the community come together and offer support for our friends and neighbors who need it. You can help the Arkansas Community Foundation (ARCF) in Faulkner County fight hunger in our community — both now and on a permanent basis. 

For the fourth year, ARCF/Faulkner County is partnering with 501 LIFE for the “Step Up to the Plate” campaign planned Monday, Oct. 29, through Friday, Nov. 9. The Step Up campaign challenges schoolchildren throughout Faulkner County to raise money for ARCF/Faulkner County’s Stop Hunger Endowment and to collect food for a local hunger agency. 

This year, in tandem with Step Up, we are challenging the community to help grow the Stop Hunger Endowment. Individual and corporate citizens can contribute with a simple donation or even a match challenge to another business or to a school participating in the effort. Donations can be made in memory or in honor of a loved one.

The Stop Hunger Endowment was established in 2009 by the ARCF of Faulkner County. Through this endowment, a grant will be made each and every year — forever — to a non-profit group providing food to hungry families in Faulkner County. The first grant of $2,500 was made in 2010 to the Bethlehem House; the second grant of $2,500 was made in 2011 to the Soul Food Café Mission. As the endowment grows through your support and the support from programs like Step Up, the amount of the grants will grow, too.

Donations are fully tax deductible. To donate or for more information, email [email protected] or call 501.269.8935. 

Together, we can make a difference and fight hunger in our county, now and forever.

Julie LaRue is the executive director of Arkansas Community Foundation/Faulkner County.