Fayetteville, Fort Smith Schools Offer Free Summer Lunch

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Fayetteville students have one more day of school before summer vacation, but when classes end, the lunchroom will still be open. It’s called the Summer Lunch Program.

Starting on June 4, the cafeteria at the Owl Creek School in Fayetteville will be open for lunch. If you're 18 and younger you can come in and eat for free, no questions asked.

It’s part of the Summer Lunch Program, feeding nearly 3,000 students a week. It’s been going on at Fayetteville schools for more than two decades, but Owl Creek's principal says they've seen a ten percent jump each of the last three years.

"I have noticed that we've had more and more,” says Owl Creek School Principal Kristen Champion. “And I wonder if that’s not you know were seeing a general trend with the economy that families are having a hard time, even families when you've got two people working."

Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., anyone 18 and younger can get a meal. It’s a federally funded program. Any school with more than 50 percent of students on free and reduce lunch qualifies, at Owl Creek almost 70 of students are in that category. The district says they want to make sure their students aren't going hungry when classes end.

“We just want to make sure they continue in the summer,” says Fayetteville School District Child Nutrition Director Adam Simmons. “A lot of parents are working. They don't have time to spend at home with the kids and money is tight too so anything we can take off the parents and help out with were here to do.”

The students receive hot meals, and this year there's a new twist. All produce and ground beef comes from local farmers.

"Economics has hurts families,” Simmons says. “But it has hurt farmers and its hurting everybody so I want to get more produce and more local stuff into these kids and I want to help the farmers out as well."

Lunch is served Monday thru Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The lunches will be available beginning Monday, June 4 and ending Friday, August 3. No meals will be served July 3, 4, or 5.

The Owl Creek School is located at 375 North Rupple Road, across the street from the Donald W. Reynolds Boys & Girls Club.

For more information, contact the Fayetteville School District Child Nutrition Service at 479-684-5091 or Owl Creek Food Service at 479-718-0221.

The Fort Smith Public School District served more than 50,000 meals during the summer of 2011. Their program opens in 2012 on June 4 in nine schools. Five of these, Morrison, Pike, Spradling, Sunnymede and Tilles Elememtary Schools serve breakfast and lunch. Additionally, lunch is served at Ballman, Barling, Carnall and Howard Elementary Schools. Children 18 years or younger may participate in this USDA funded nutrition program free of charge. The cost to adults is $3.25.  Click here for more information on Fort Smith’s free lunch program.