Every year the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank delivers more than 5 million pounds of food to those in need. The warehouse receives fewer donations during the summer, a time when the demand for food is at its highest.
According to Melissa Vest, every day nearly 100,000 people in this area do not have enough to eat every day.
"The state of Arkansas has the highest rate of childhood hunger in the nation,” Vest said. “During the summer the food supply here at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank is low and demand is high."
It is the goal of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank to provide relief to those in need.
"We actually see a lot of donations at Christmas time and Thanksgiving because it is kind of on people's minds,” said Vest. “But, right now there's actually a big need because students are out of school and kids that need food do not have access to the school meals that they receive during the school year. So right now the need is really high and donations are actually down."
Vest said 40% of the food bank's clients are under the age of 18.
"Washington County for sure definitely has one of the highest in the state,” Vest said. “Benton and Washington Counties definitely have a high rate. It's one of the highest in the state of Arkansas."
Dan Brown spends several hours each month volunteering at the food bank.
He thinks the high number of hungry Arkansans can be reduced and hopes his time will help put lower in that figure.
"In a country like ours, that's really something that we ought to be able to fix or at least make number,” Brown said. “We feel like the work that we do here and the work that the food bank does along with all of the other volunteer groups helps to make that problem better."
Donations can be dropped off at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank's Warehouse in Bethel Heights Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Northwest Arkansas Food bank is always looking for volunteers to help label, sort and distribute the donations.
For information about volunteer opportunities or donation options, click here.
Starting June 4, the Owl Creek School in Fayetteville opened its cafeteria 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.
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.
The students receive hot meals, and this year there’s a new twist. All produce and ground beef comes from local farmers.
Lunch is served Monday thru Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The lunches will be available through Friday, August 3.
The Owl Creek School is located at 375 North Rupple Road, across the street from the Donald W. Reynolds Boys & Girls Club.
Elmdale Elementary, Parson Hills Elementary and Jones Elementary are also participating.
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.