JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There are five Feeding America food banks in the state of Arkansas.
They recently joined forces to try and help 567,000 Arkansans in need.
CEO of the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Christie Jordan, said they are one of the five food banks that are part of a new project.
"We collaboratively wrote a grant to Tyson Foods," Jordan said. "The Tyson Food Protein Innovation Fund awarded us a grant to build a Cold Repack Facility at the Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock."
Jordan said they decided on Little Rock as the location to make it available to everyone.
"We put the Cold Repack Facility in Little Rock so it would be centrally located," Jordan said. "Its location is for all the food banks in the state to be able to utilize it. There are five food banks associated with Feeding America and we'll all be able to collaboratively use this facility even though it's in Little Rock."
So, why is a Cold Repack Facility something that's needed?
Jordan said it's going to mean more food for more people.
"For many of those people," Jordan said. "The only food they'll have in their home tonight will come from a local food pantry. Sadly, a lot of times protein donations are pretty scarce at food banks. And when we do get protein donations they are almost always in bulk containers. Right now, we have twenty-pound boxes of chicken. And that's a great donation, but our food pantries can't safely repack that for smaller packaging to distribute to families. So, we will partner with the Arkansas Food Bank and will repack the chicken into smaller portions so it's easy for our agencies to give out to families in need throughout our area."
Jordan said the facility is about food safety.
"If you think about cooking in your kitchen," Jordan said. "And how you have to keep your surfaces clean when you are cooking with chicken our raw meat. The same thing applies for repackaging food. So, when we get that bulk chicken or other types of protein we want to make sure when it's repackaged that it's done so safely and in a clean facility so there won't be any kind of cross contamination. And so, food safety is something we're really serious about. And that's why this grant is so important. It's going to allow us to help our agencies better utilize the donations given to our organizations."
Jordan said there are only a few organizations large enough to handle bulk donations.
Now, more agencies will be able to access the protein donations that couldn't before.
"We'll be able to move that food faster," Jordan said. "And get it into the hands of the families that need it. And that means that we'll have open space in our freezers and be able to accept more protein donations. We'll be able to accept protein donations we never could before because we didn't have a safe way to repack them for our agencies."
The Food Bank of NEA works with over 140 different partner agencies and programs in Northeast Arkansas.
Over 5,000 people each week visit a food pantry, soup kitchen or shelter that is associated with the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas.
Jordan said the Cold Repack Facility is operational and they will soon receive their first repack delivery.
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