U.S. Department of Agriculture Food & Nutrition Service Administrator to Visit Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas – The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is pleased to host USDA-FNS Administrator Cindy Long on Thursday, July 13.

Administrator Long’s visit to Arkansas aims to show support for the USDA-FNS Summer Food Service Program, which was enhanced by the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (also referred to as the omnibus spending bill). During her visit, she will observe a newly authorized rural non-congregate summer meal site at Searcy School District and SNAP Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) programs at Our House in Little Rock.

“We are honored to host Administrator Long. We love to share success stories when it comes to improving children’s access to healthy foods,” said Alliance CEO Kathy Webb. “We owe special thanks to Sen. Boozman for championing changes that have expanded access to summer meals. And we appreciate his continued support for a Farm Bill with strong programs for Arkansas families and farmers.”

Administrator Long begins the day with a visit at 10:30 a.m. to Searcy Middle School’s summer meal site. By taking advantage of the newly approved rural, non-congregate summer meal service provisions included in the FY23 Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress in December 29, 2022, Searcy School District, like many other districts in rural Arkansas, can now offer summer meals in innovative ways to more students, whether they are on-site at school or not.  Non-congregate meal service allows for nutritious meals to be delivered to children who are not able to participate in on-site, “congregate” programs because of lack of access and/or transportation. In Searcy, the Southwest Middle School provides a week’s worth of meals (five breakfasts and five lunches) for pick up through the end of July.  The Searcy School District is inviting local dignitaries and community leaders to attend the visiting session. The Alliance is pleased to announce Searcy School District recently received a 2023 No Kid Hungry Summer Nutrition Program grant from our national No Kid Hungry partner, Share Our Strength, to support their summer meal service.

Administrator Long will visit Our House in Little Rock at 3 p.m. to observe their meal service and implementation of SNAP E&T. This program helps SNAP participants gain skills and find work that moves them forward to self-sufficiency. Each state is required to operate a SNAP E&T program and receives federal funding annually to operate and administer the program. These programs also help to reduce barriers to work by providing support services – such as transportation and childcare – as participants prepare for and obtain employment.

During her visit, Administrator Long will discuss the USDA-FNS’s newest nutrition program, Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), which provides families whose children are eligible for free school meals with grocery benefits on a debit-type card during the summer months. Summer EBT, made permanent under the newly passed Consolidated Appropriations Act, has been proven to decrease food insecurity among children and will help close the summer hunger gap. 

About the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is a collaborative statewide voice advancing equitable solutions to hunger. Our vision is to create a hunger-free Arkansas. Founding members include the Arkansas Foodbank in Little Rock, Food Bank of North Central Arkansas in Mountain Home, Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in Jonesboro, Harvest Regional Food Bank in Texarkana, Northwest Arkansas Food Bank in Springdale, and River Valley Regional Food Bank in Fort Smith. We invite you to visit ARHungerAlliance.org for details on hunger relief programs, donor, and volunteer opportunities.

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