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Food Bank Works Against Startling Food Insecurity Numbers, Feeds Children For Long Weekend

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Seven out of 10 Fort Smith kids need food assistance; this becomes especially daunting during long weekends.

With the President's Day weekend ahead, Fort Smith students look forward to three days off. And while that's exciting, the River Valley Food Bank wants to make sure the children are well fed while they're away from school.

"Someone was nice enough to donate cans of soup to our school and they donated two cans to every student," a local teacher at Sutton Elementary explained to her class.

The idea was Ken Kupchick's. Four years ago, River Valley Food Bank's director of marketing realized what long weekends mean to kids that live in a county with a strong food insecurity rate.

"Sebastian County has a strong food insecurity rate, about 18 percent of the county overall. But it really hits hard with the children," he explained.

Kupchick says he was visiting a local school some time ago when he noticed two sick children waiting for their parents to pick them up.

"When I talked to the principal, she said this happens a lot of after a three day weekend. The kids have an inadequate source of food. Then when they come to school and eat, they eat quickly, and many of them get nauseous and sick."

Thanks to various donations, food-drives and grant money, 7,500 students are going home with food so they're well fed through the long weekend.

"We need to do everything we possibly can to make sure those kids are eating right every step of the way. And this is one way of saying we care."