FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arvest Bank’s 1 Million Meals initiative challenges bank associates, customers and community members to participate in fundraising efforts and nonperishable food drives to fight hunger in the more than 120 communities the bank serves. The initiative is needed, as the Food Research & Action Center reports 17 percent of American households surveyed in 2014 reported food hardship, or not having adequate funds to provide enough food for their family.

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Arvest is conducting its annual initiative in the spring this year rather than its traditional fall time frame due largely to the fact food banks report an increased need for food items in the summer, when many children do not have the benefit of eating meals at the schools they attend. In 2014, for example, more than 21.5 million children received free or reduced-price meals on a daily basis via the National School Lunch Program, according to Feeding America. Donations to food banks also tend to be lower in the spring and summer than at other times of the year.

Arvest Bank kicked off the two-month, bank-wide effort to provide at least one million meals to local, hungry families today, and it will continue through May 28. The initiative will conclude during the first two full weeks of June, when donations are presented to 69 local organizations who feed the hungry in their communities.

To participate in the 1 Million Meals initiative, customers and community members can donate nonperishable food items or make monetary donations at any Arvest Bank branch or call (866) 952-9523. Every dollar raised through 1 Million Meals provides the equivalent of five meals for those in need.

Each of Arvest Bank’s 69 recipient organizations was selected on a local basis.

For more information about 1 Million Meals, visit arvest.com/millionmeals.