LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On the eve of Thanksgiving, the Arkansas Foodbank said their warehouse is the emptiest it has been in a decade.
No other holiday is centered around food quite as much as Thanksgiving. Turkey, sweet potatoes, and cranberries are staples not every family can afford, and many rely on the Arkansas Foodbank to provide them.
This year, empty shelves reminded Sarah Riffle, Arkansas Foodbank Chief Development Officer, of why the Arkansas Foodbank exists.
“We step in when families have a short-term need,” Riffle stated.
Lately, Riffle, said the facility has been starved to supply its empty spaces. The problem has only grown as children get out of school and parents are trying to provide holiday meals for their families.
Typically, all the stock in the warehouse cycles out every six weeks. Lately, supply chain strain has forced that process to double to three weeks or four weeks.
“The food is moving much more quickly because there’s so much less of it available for us to access,” Riffle said.
The concerns continue to pile with lower donations from retail stores credited to inflation that has kept many of the people who used the service during the pandemic still dependent.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were very fortunate to be the recipient of a lot of federal programs,” Riffle explained. “There were also a lot of federal programs for individuals. We saw the stimulus checks and the rent forgiveness. All of those federal programs are nonexistent now. So, we as an organization are trying to fill the gap.”
Donations normally account for 80% of the Arkansas Foodbank’s 24 million pounds of food they distribute in 33 counties each year.
The rest of what they need is purchased, but to afford that growing that percentage, the organization needs your help, so that empty shelves don’t result in empty tables.