LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After a year of research and work the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance held a summit on Wednesday, sharing how to possibly decrease the amount of food deserts in the state.
Jessica Crenshaw is the communications manager for the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and she said the summit is to provide solutions for groups to help decrease the amount of food deserts in Arkansas.
“The event was a culmination of a year’s worth of work and research by the Governor’s Food Desert Working Group,” Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw said the Governor’s Food Desert Working Group was started last year by former Gov. Asa Hutchinson and was organized to provide recommendations for actionable steps against food deserts.
“They traveled to various states that surround Arkansas to learn about what was working and what kind of solutions could they find to our neighbors to find here,” Crenshaw said.
The group defines food deserts as if residents in a community must travel more than one mile in an urban setting or more than 10 miles in a rural setting to obtain a selection of fresh, nutritious food.
According to the group’s report, in 2021 over 82 percent of Arkansas counties had one or more communities that needed to improve access to food.
The summit featured multiple speakers all from out of state who spoke with many Arkansas groups, one of those speakers was Jimmy Wright who is the president of Wright Solutions in Alabama. He said there are many different methods.
“E-commerce, online shopping is another solution for that or even smaller neighborhood stores,” Wright said.
Some ideas are unique like a mobile grocery that Tennessee-based The Works Inc. President Roshun Austin said they use.
“A 44-foot trailer attached to an F-450 that goes to neighborhoods that are food deserts throughout Memphis, Tennessee,” Austin said.
Both said thousands have benefited from what they have used. Crenshaw said if many people use these sustainable solutions and work together, they can make a difference.