JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Arkansas ranks fifth in the country for food insecurity and hardship. This ranking represents almost 23 percent of the state's population, according to a new study by the Food Research and Action Center.
The Arkansas percentage is five points higher than the national hunger rate. The report also revealed the southeast and southwest are the two regions that are experiencing the most hardship.
Through their various programs, the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas serves over 5,000 people each week but the director said there is still a need in the community.
"Just imagine not being able to provide for your family, how that would make you feel and how hopeless," said Christie Jordan, the executive director of the food bank.
"Just the overall poverty population in our state is pretty substantial when you look at the overall population of Arkansas."
Jordan said families in Arkansas don't have enough disposable income to provide food for their families even though most of them are holding down a part-time or full-time job. These families are known as the working poor.
One of the food bank's programs is focused on childhood hunger called the Backpack program. The program provides food to schools in the community who distributes them to kids who are in need. The program serves over 500 children in the region.
"A backpack of food is sent home with the child every weekend of the school year," Jordan said.
She said although the food bank is a resource, it is not a solution.
"When you start talking about ending hunger, you start talking about ending poverty, you talk about better education."
Helping solve the problem of hunger in the state will give families a chance to focus their attention elsewhere.
"By giving those resources that they are lacking,"Jordan said. "They are able to focus on other things so that they can lead productive lives."