Study reveals huge hunger in NEA

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - September is Hunger Action Month.

Those who work to help combat the hunger problem in Arkansas are using this campaign to try and raise awareness to a problem that doesn't seem to be getting better.

According to a study released by Feeding America, done by the United States Department of Agriculture, 42 million Americans, including 13 million children, are considered food insecure.

Mary Beasley, the Development Officer with the Food Bank of NEA, said things are bad in Northeast Arkansas.

"Here in Northeast Arkansas," Beasley said. "We have over 90,000 people that are food insecure. Over 30,000 of that number is children. This is what we're facing right now."

The number is 95,000 people in Northeast Arkansas, to be exact, Beasley said.

Beasley said it's a problem they see every day and one you see too.

"You're seeing people every single day that don't know where their next meal is going to come from," Beasley said. "Daily, weekly, monthly .... they just aren't sure where they're going to get a meal."

To help raise awareness, they're asking people to take your picture with a paper plate and post it on social media.

"We have a 'Pass the Plate' campaign," Beasley said. "There's a plate that says, 'Without food, I can't' and you fill in the blank. Take a picture and put it on social media. It's something that helps us get the word out. We have a plate circulating through businesses, but anyone can participate. Take a paper plate at home, write on it and take your picture."

Beasley said while the food insecurity number in Northeast Arkansas has stayed the same from 2016 to 2017, the recent study revealed something startling.

"Our number have stayed about the same for this year," Beasley said. "But what we're seeing in Northeast Arkansas is we have a higher percentage of people who are food insecure compared to the whole state of Arkansas."

Beasley said people are unaware of how big an issue hunger is in Northeast Arkansas.

"We don't realize how many kids are getting their only meal at school," Beasley said. "We don't realize how many senior citizens aren't getting the nutritional meals they need. I just think we take it for granted each day and I think that's a big part of it."

Beasley said they need the public's help.

"We've got to get more meals out," Beasley said. "That many people that are food insecure, we need to be able to get out as many meals as we possibly can. So, any support we can get in the form of monetary donations or food donations help tremendously."

Beasley said they're working on building their supply for the holidays that will be here before you know it.

"We are trying to restock our shelves for the holidays," Beasley said. "We need boxed macaroni and cheese, canned green beans, canned corn and canned chicken or tuna. So, this month of September, we're asking individuals and organizations if they would be willing to help us with those four items."

If you would like to help, call 932-FOOD or log onto their website.

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