In Arkansas, one out of every five households has difficulty putting food on the table. A recent report released by the USDA shows 19.7% of Arkansans are food insecure, meaning that at some time in the course of a year they had difficulty providing enough food for all members of their family because of limited resources. Our state ranks second in the nation after Mississippi for food insecurity.

September is Hunger Action Month, when the networks of food banks unite to urge individuals to take action in their communities. It is an opportunity to create a movement that has a real and lasting impact to help end hunger in Arkansas.

As individuals, charities, businesses and government, we all have a role to play in getting food to those in need. There are several ways to get involved.

In addition to opportunities across the state to help after-school feeding sites, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance offers a couple of other unique ways to volunteer.

The Alliance and the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) have partnered to form a gleaning network within the state of Arkansas. Gleaning is the biblical practice of hand-gathering crops left after harvest. The Alliance and SoSA volunteers glean fields and orchards donated by growers. The produce is then given to food banks, local pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters that feed or distribute food to their neighbors in need. The Alliance and its members serve over 900 hunger relief organizations in all 75 Arkansas counties.

You can also contact the Alliance to start a Cooking Matters program at your church or civic group. Cooking Matters is a 6-week nutrition education program teaching individuals and families the skills they need to cook healthy meals and get the most from their food budgets. The Cooking Matters classes are hands-on, full participation classes taught by volunteer chefs and nutrition experts from communities large and small.

For more information on how you can help visit www.arhungeralliance.org