Organizations dedicated to reducing food insecurity in Arkansas have a new partner. Telecommunications company AT&T announced its Believe Arkansas initiative Monday at the state Capitol.
The program includes a donation of $100,000 split among various hunger relief groups across the state. According to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Arkansas ranks second worst in the nation when it comes to food insecurity. The president of the AT&T's Arkansas operations, Ronnie Dedman said that is one reason the company chose to focus on that issue.
During the planning of the campaign earlier this month, floods swept through the state and the company decided to devote some of its funding directly to hunger relief in the counties designated as needing disaster relief.
"With the devastation of the flooding, we thought what better way to help than to see if we can secure some dollars for the folks in those 12 counties. And we were able to come up with about $20,000 literally overnight for that effort," Dedman said.
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, which oversees food banks and food pantries across the state, received a check for $50,000 at Monday’s announcement. The rest of the money will be directed to food banks in the state and to other ongoing fundraising campaigns. Kathy Webb, executive director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, says the statewide reach of the telecommunications company will be particularly useful.
"The technical resources, the financial resources, and the volunteer network is truly unprecedented in scale," Webb said.
In addition to the monetary donations, the program will include prepared food packs for police and other first responders to distribute while on duty. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey were on hand for the announcement.
AT&T has launched similar efforts in over a dozen other cities on a variety of issues. A description of the programs on their website is followed by a survey asking viewers to indicate how the news of these programs impacts their perception of the company.