Jefferson County residents filed into the Pine Bluff Convention Center Wednesday for the commodities distribution. The two-day event hosted by the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Economic Opportunities Commission and Delta Regional Community Service Outreach Network, Inc. was expected to provide food for about 400 households.
Before 2 p.m., Wednesday, organizers had already served 200 people.
“It’s very important,” said Ann Cooper, Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Economic Opportunities Commission community service director, of the distribution. “We try to fight hunger everyday and Jefferson County is just like all of the other counties out there; they need help just as much as the other ones do.”
According to Feeding America’s website, there are nearly 18,000 people in Jefferson County who are food insecure. Approximately 58 percent are below the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) threshold. Studies from Feeding America show that in Arkansas, there are 518, 960 people who are food insecure.
“The statistics are high for the state of Arkansas,” said Jacqueline Ross of the Delta Regional Community Service Outreach Network, Inc. “So, we’re doing all that we can collaboratively to try to address hunger in this county.”
Canned goods, dry beans and other items were provided by the United States Department of Agriculture through the The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The federal program helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans for free.
The last distribution in Jefferson County took place in April 2018.
“We are so grateful that this opportunity is back in operation, because it’s been awhile,” said Ross. “Ann has done great job in trying to get enough product to make up for when we didn’t serve Jefferson County. So, I’m expecting this to just continue and increase as it goes on.”
Ross and her husband, Louis Ross, say the Delta Network Food Bank will continue to help those in need in Jefferson County.
“Jefferson County needs help in helping others, feeding others and doing for others,” said Louis Ross.