State in need of summer feeding sites for children on free and reduced lunch

Counties Without Summer Feed Sites

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - When school lets out for the summer there is the potential for tens of thousands of Arkansas children to go hungry.{} Several state agencies are trying to make sure that doesn't happen.

More than 260,000 children in Arkansas receive free and reduced lunch through their public school.{} As of 2013, only 15% of those children are receiving those free and reduced lunches during the summer months.{} Many of those schools are closed for summer meals unless they're signed up through the federal Summer Food Service Program.

A big reason children aren't receiving those meals are because of a lack of those sites set up through the USDA.

"There are a lot of barriers in Arkansas," said Nancy Conley, communication director for the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.{}

"A lot of the counties are rural and there's not a way for kids to get to a summer meals site even if there were one, and there are nine counties in Arkansas where there are not any summer meals programs."

Lafayette, Cleveland, Grant, Montgomery, Searcy, Stone, Izard, Randolph and Prairie counties currently don't have feed sites set up to provide meals to kids during the summer.{}

Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is looking to sign up schools, community centers, even churches, to act as a sponsor and site for children to receive those meals.{} But the federal red tape may be daunting for those looking to sign up.

"At the alliance we help them do that," said Conley.{} "We help them get over some of the hurdles, make sure that they have all of their paperwork in order."

The Alliance also provides grant money for sponsors to purchase things like milk coolers, which are necessary for providing the milk that is required to be served with USDA summer meals.{} But providing those meals should come at no additional costs.

"The sponsor is reimbursed weekly by USDA for the number of summer meals that they serve to kids," said Conley.

All nine counties without programs are currently working with the Alliance to establish feeding sites there, but Conley mentions there is always a need for other feeding sites in all areas of the state.

To find a feeding site near you, call 866-3-HUNGRY or click on the link under associated links on this page.

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