For two decades, the Arkansas Rice Depot’s Food for Kids program has been providing kid-friendly food to children in more than 650 schools across Arkansas, reaching more than 35,000 children annually who often go without food in their homes.

To help the non-profit with its mission, BHP Billiton presented a $150,000 check to Arkansas Rice Depot on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Sidney Deener Elementary School in Searcy, home to BHP Billiton’s Arkansas operations.

Arkansas Rice Depot feeds about 400,000 Arkansans annually, but has seen a decline in donations while need increased during the summer. Kimberly Aaron, president and CEO of the nonprofit said that while donations of nonperishable food items are appreciated, monetary contributions allow greater flexibility.

"The BHP Billiton donation and any other monetary donations allow us to put that money directly where we need it most," Aaron said. "Many people would be surprised by how much we can do with a donation of just $30. For that amount, we can feed a child for a month. For $65, we can fuel one Food for Kids delivery van for a day. For $360, we can feed a child for an entire year."

Aaron notes that 98 percent of the nonprofit’s budget goes toward purchasing and distributing food for the needy. Aaron is asking everyone interested in helping to donate. Contributions may be made via the agency’s website,

The BHP Billiton donation will be distributed in three payments of $50,000 to aid students who need food assistance in Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Van Buren and White counties.

"The gift we are announcing today is in recognition that nutrition, health, and learning go together. Hungry children often struggle in the classroom, so we’re targeting our funds towards those children in north central Arkansas who need a little extra help," Games said. "We appreciate the Arkansas Rice Depot and our local schools in ensuring these students get the help they need."