Students Miss Meals Due to Icy Weather

The slick conditions kept a lot of River Valley kids out of school Tuesday (Feb.2). Many of those students rely on free or reduced meals at school to eat.

Sierra Wise is a seventh grader at Darby Junior High in Fort Smith. Wise and her grandmother said they rely on free lunches to get by daily.

“School lunches are a big thing,” said Wise. “I can go to school and know that I’m going to get fed a big meal.”

Wise said her first meal of the day is at Darby Junior High.

“I wake up, I get dressed and walk to school and then I eat breakfast,” Wise said.

Ken Kupchick with the River Valley Regional Food Bank said more than 31,000 students in Sebastian and Crawford Counties rely on free or reduced lunches.

“These kids are receiving two square meals at school a day,” said Kupchick. “This is their adequate nutrition. This is where they rely upon the food that is going to see them through. When they get home we even worry that they may not be getting a dinner at night.”

Wise was out shopping with her grandmother Ollie Wilson Tuesday.

With snow day after snow day, the family said it’s taking a toll on their finances.

“It does cut into your budget a little bit,” said Wilson. “You spend a little bit more money when they are at home.”

According to a study from the Arkansas Department of Education 71 percent of students in the Fort Smith School District take advantage of free or reduced lunches.