About Arkansas Rice Depot
Way back in 1982, a few caring Arkansans noticed there were a lot of children, families and senior citizens going to bed hungry right here in Arkansas. Many food pantries were struggling for supplies. The cupboard was bare at the shelters.
Children were hungry. So these folks organized and looked for food. And they found rice. Home-grown, nourishing and inexpensive rice. They paid for it out of their own pockets and gave it to anyone in need.
Soon word spread about this organization that provided free rice to any group willing to fight hunger in their community. And the Arkansas Rice Depot was born.
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Arkansas Rice Depot was formed in 1982 to combat hunger in Arkansas. Our mission is to find sensible solutions to hunger in Arkansas. Quick facts:
- Arkansas Rice Depot distributes nearly 9 million pounds of food each year
- We feed as much as 15% of the state’s population
- With a small staff of less than 20, more than 98% of budget is spent on purchasing and distributing food
- We serve partner agencies in all 75 counties in Arkansas – the only statewide foodbank network
Four Core Programs
We fulfill this mission through four core programs:
- Food For Families: Our statewide free food bank serves 300 church and community hunger organizations
- Food For Kids: Backpacks of food and supplies are sent home with children having problems in school due to hunger at home, currently operating in more than 600 schools, serving over 35,000 students and siblings
- Food For Seniors: Home-delivered food boxes given each month to seniors
- Disaster Relief: Food, blankets, disaster buckets, etc…distributed to any community requesting disaster assistance
Our People - View All | View our 2014 Board Members
Laura Rhea, President and CEO
Laura Rhea has served as the President and CEO of Arkansas Rice Depot for the past 30 years. During this time she has made sure Arkansas Rice Depot remained a faith based ministry while also developing innovative programs for the Depot.
Laura developed Food For Kids, a backpack program serving over 650 schools in Arkansas, sending home backpacks filled with nutritious food to over 35,000 students having problems in school due to hunger at home. This program has been recognized in the Wall Street Journal, on CNN, and has been replicated in over 40 states across the nation and most recently in Mexico.
Laura also developed Simple Pleasures, a gourmet gift shop that sells the Rice Depot line of 13 rice, soup, and chili mixes, many of which she personally developed. The gift shop also sells other gourmet food products as well as attractive gift baskets and proceeds are used to purchase food for Rice Depot’s hunger relief efforts.
Laura grew up in North Little Rock. She is married, with one child and four grandchildren and now lives in Mayflower Arkansas. As a child she always wanted to be a missionary but never dreamed that one day her mission field would be the state of Arkansas and food would be the vehicle for sharing God’s love with hurting and hungry Arkansas families. Laura credits God, and the generous people of Arkansas for the success of Arkansas Rice Depot.