NEA Outstanding Business of the Year Award
Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas
Nonprofit Business award
The Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas was in desperate need of a new facility. The estimated cost to renovate a larger facility was around millions of dollars, and Food Bank CEO Christie Jordan told Talk Business & Politics she wasn’t sure where the money would come from.
Then the organization received a grant to pay for the project. It’s been a decade since then, and Jordan said it’s among the most pivotal moments of her career.
The Food Bank has been selected as the Talk Business & Politics Northeast Arkansas Nonprofit Outstanding Business of the Year. The award is presented by QualChoice.
“In November 2012 the Food Bank moved into our new distribution facility. We moved from a 13,000-square-foot building to a 56,000-square-foot distribution center that was specifically designed for our work,” she said. “Achieving that goal was years in the making.”
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation gave the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas a grant to pay for 100% of the cost to design, build, furnish, and equip the facility. Local donors gave generously to help the organization raise the $1.6 million in matching funds that were required to receive the grant. The matching funds were used to start a program endowment for the Food Bank and the Reynolds Foundation gave an additional matching gift to start a maintenance endowment to support the long-term care and maintenance of the new building.
Since 1983, the Food Bank has distributed several million pounds of food throughout Northeast Arkansas. The Food Bank’s Core Food Distribution program accepts donated bulk food that would otherwise be destroyed from local and national manufacturers, retailers and growers. This food is then stored and redistributed to charitable agencies that rely upon the Food Bank to provide nutritious food for their communities.
The Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas provides hunger relief to people in need by raising awareness, securing resources, and distributing food through a network of nonprofit agencies and programs.
It’s estimated that the organization collects and redistributes about 9 million pounds of food each year to the 12-county region in the heart of Northeast Arkansas. During the past year, it has helped 34,517 people in 15,921 households. About 27% of those who received aid were children.
One of the main problems this year has been the rapid rise in food costs. Inflation has been at its highest level in 40 years. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed several issues. Among them was a lack of access in this part of the state in terms of fresh food. There are many fresh food “deserts” in the region, she said.
“Having access to fresh foods … in many places it’s underserved,” she said.
Supply chain woes have also been an issue during the last two years as well. Many people don’t understand that the Food Bank is a non-profit entity, not a government program. Without donations, it would exist and there are thousands of people in Northeast Arkansas that suffer from food insecurity.
“We need donations of time, food, and money,” she said.