Harvest Regional Food Bank has reached a milestone for hunger relief. Each county in the 10-county area served by Harvest is now classified as "adequately served" as measured by the Feeding America standards for meals provided to people in poverty.
"This means we are adequately serving every single county that's in our service area," said Camille Wrinkle, Harvest executive director.
Harvest Regional Food Bank, along with other Feeding America food banks, receives reports throughout the year indicating the percentage of Meals per Person in Need provided by the food bank in each county.
Counties are considered adequately served if the food bank provides at least 50% of the Meals Needed Per Person in Need.
"Many food banks struggle to meet the 50% threshold in every county they serve, especially if those counties are rural, carry a high rate of poverty, and have very limited resources," said Wrinkle. "To have an all green service area has been a goal of Harvest Regional Food Bank for several years. It symbolizes that a food bank is not just distributing food, it is distributing food where it needs to go."
"We have absolutely been working toward this goal for several years. Just a few years ago we only had two counties that were considered adequately served and that was Miller and Bowie counties. We had a couple of counties where our percentage of need met was in the teens. To raise all of that to over 50% is a huge accomplishment," she said.
Meeting the goal, in part, can be attributed to Harvest Regional Food Bank's mobile pantry program.
"The expansion of our mobile pantry program has allowed us to go into our rural and underserved counties more often and provide more food to those areas," she said.
Harvest hopes to provide more food for more hungry people.
"We absolutely hope to improve on these numbers but to maintain and increase our service really takes maintaining the level of donations we get in funding and food so we're able to go out into these counties and serve our rural and underserved areas," Wrinkle said.
Reaching the milestone wouldn't have happened without all the support given to the organization.
"We couldn't do this without the support of our communities throughout our entire 10-county area. We certainly couldn't do it without our donors, our volunteers and the amazing team we work with," Wrinkle said.
Harvest Regional Food Bank serves Bowie County in Texas and Miller, Lafayette, Hempstead, Little River, Sevier, Howard, Pike, Nevada and Columbia counties in Arkansas. Its mission is to eliminate hunger in the region through food distribution and education.