Fort Smith Clearinghouse Experiencing Holiday Setbacks

FORT SMITH (KFSM)- The Fort Smith Clearinghouse is finding new ways to get funding, a struggle they have never faced before.

"What we're facing at this time is a shortfall in budget," senior director of development Chuck Goux said. "We lost a weatherization program several months ago that was paying us an opportunity to bring in revenue for us doing a service."

Without those services, the Clearinghouse has lost more than $9,000 a month, nearly 30 percent of its budget.

"Without that money, we're afraid," Goux said. "What's going to happen is our pantry will suffer and our meals for kids backpack program will suffer."

There are some resources left from the backpack program, but employees fear that they may have to cut back on the number of items given to each child.

"Our executive director is frantically trying to find either reductions in cost, which allows us to maintain the amount of items we have in a bag or if we have to reduce them, which items will go first," Goux said. "That's a tough call."

Decreasing the number of items means they may have to pay more for the food they do buy.

"If we decrease the volume that we buy, then we have to pay more because we lose our discounts," Goux said. "Now, you're buying less food for the same money."

Hundreds of kids in the seven counties the Clearinghouse serves depend on the food given to them through the backpack program.

"Can you imagine going on Friday, eating lunch and not having another meal until Monday morning and expected to be on time, alert, and not disruptive in class when your stomach is growling," Goux said. "That's a lot to ask of an eight year old."

Goux said employees are working hard to cut costs and find new ways for funding. As it stands now, Clearinghouse will not be turning away any families in need.

For more information about the Clearinghouse or how you can help, visit the agency's website.