Groups Try To Reverse Arkansas’ High Child Hunger Rate

According to 24/7  Wall Street, Arkansas was number 6 in their list of top 10 states where children go hungry the most. The study said nearly 28 percent of kids in the state don’t get enough food on a daily basis.

Ken Kupchick with the River Valley Food Bank said this number was nothing new to the state.

“The simple fact of the matter is this has been an ongoing problem, and we’re meeting the need as best as we can,” said Kupchick.

Kupchick said the River Valley Bank provided food for more than 150 food pantries in the River Valley. He said the number was closer to 200 in the past, and they were working to get it back up.

Community Services Clearinghouse members said they had a unique program specifically dedicated to feeding children.

“The Meals For Kids Backpack Program, and we currently have 2700 kids that we send food home with each weekend in five counties in Arkansas and Sequoyah and LeFlore county in Oklahoma,” said Bob Curd, Chief Operations Operator for Community Services Clearinghouse.

According to Cord, the clearinghouse in Fort Smith helped about 95 different schools and 36 communities. Curd said counselors at each school would identify students who may not have meals on the weekend and the clearinghouse would provide those schools with bags of food for each student to be able to eat over the weekend.

He said the food they sent out did not need preparation, kids could just open it and eat it. Curd said they tried to makes sure all the food they were giving out was healthy.

When school will be out for the summer, Kupchick said there were programs in the area to make sure children weren’t going without food.

He said, “we do have summer meal programs in Fort Smith and Van Buren so there are certain schools that are set up through the USDA to provide both breakfast and lunch.”

Schools in Fort Smith would begin their summer meals program June 6.

According to the Fort Smith Public Schools website, breakfast would be served from 7:45 am to 8:30 am at Pike, Sunnymede, Tilles, Spradling and Trusty Elementary Schools at no cost to any child ages 1-18. Parents could eat for $2.

Lunch would be served from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm at nine schools; Ballman, Barling, Carnall, Howard, Pike, Spradling, Sunnymede, Tilles and Trusty Elementary schools. All children ages 1-18 would be able to eat for free. Parents would be able to eat for $3.25.

The Summer Meals Program would end August 5.

In Van Buren, their Summer Meals Program would run from June 9 through July 25.

They would be serving students at Central Elementary and the Van Buren Boys and Girls Club. Breakfast would be from 7:30am to 8:30 am. Lunch, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Parents would be able to eat breakfast for $2.50 and lunch for $3.50.

The Clearinghouse said they would be attending the schools on Friday’s in both cities and giving weekend meals to all the children in attendance.

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