After Tuesday’s federal government shutdown put their food budget in jeopardy, community members came forward to support the Children’s Emergency Shelter in Fort Smith with donations.
On Wednesday (Oct. 2), the shelter posted on their Facebook page that they had received practically enough canned fruit to last until the end of the year.
“We won't turn away fruit, but if you're interested in donating food, we are now more in need of boxes of instant potatoes, boxes of Mac-n-Cheese and #10 can of vegetables. Of course, we still could use more frozen entrees, too.”
Frozen meals like lasagna or Salisbury steak, grilled chicken or nuggets and fish sticks are good suggestions. The shelter takes donations Monday-Friday, preferably between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Paper, toiletry, and household items are also accepted.
Mercy Fort Smith plans to hold a chain drive for supplies for the shelter during the month of October.
Because of the shutdown, the Children's Emergency Shelter will not be reimbursed for money spent on free or reduced meals during the federal government's shutdown.
The shelter is responsible for feeding and housing kids ages six to 17 who have been placed in their care after being removed from their homes by child welfare authorities.
Executive Director Jack Moffett said he learned by email Monday night (Sept. 30) that the shelter's funding would be affected as Congress works to reach an agreement. Now, he said he's unsure how long the food on the shelves at the shelter will last.
"This isn't just an anonymous government shut down," Moffett said. "This is very real to 24 kids in our community that we have to feed every day."
To keep the kids fed that means that the shelter will have to depend on food already stored in their pantries and freezers. If they need more, they'll have to pay for the kids' meals out of their own pocket.
"We will put some meals together and if we need to we will buy what we don't have," Moffett said. "It just comes down to spending some money that we didn't have budgeted for the purpose of food."
The shutdown also means kids at public schools who are on free or reduced lunches are also facing cuts to meal programs.