12,000 Arkansans will lose their food stamp benefits at the end of this month, because of new work requirements. As time runs out, local food banks are gearing up for an increase in need.
The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank supplies food to over 180 different agencies in Washington, Benton, Carrol, and Madison counties. With thousands about to lose food stamp benefits, they’re getting ready to fill the void.
Shelves and shelve s of food, line the walls at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, from fresh fruit to peanut butter.
“We have about 180 different member agencies, that we work with, Food pantries, soup kitchens, after school programs, senior centers, children shelters.” Sarah Gallap, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for the Food Bank said.
The Food Bank acts as a major distributor for Northwest Arkansas, serving roughly one in four people in the area, Gallap says it soon won’t be enough.
“With 12,000 people in Arkansas, losing their snap Benefits, we’re looking at probably some increased need in our area,” Gallap said.
New work requirements for 2016, will soon leave thousands without food stamps, putting an extra strain on centers like the Food Bank. Gallap says they’re doing everything they can to meet the need.
“Our agencies that we work with are definitely going to notice an increase in traffic.They way that we’re going to try and support them is through increased donations, and if we don’t receive enough donations, then we will purchase the food,” Gallap said.
Gallap says many don’t think of Northwest Arkansas as an area where people go hungry.
“You see Rogers, and Bentonville, all of these awesome, great cities, and they’re thriving. Hunger isn’t on the forefront of people’s minds,” Gallap said.
She says if everyone helps out– they’ll be ready to stock the shelves.
“We’re looking at this as a challenge, and we’re here to meet the need, and to fill the gap,” Gallap said.
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