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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Food Bank receives donation for backpack program

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, Ark- According to Feeding America, it is estimated over 30% percent of children in Arkansas don’t know where their next meal will come from.

But thanks to a recent donation- that’s helping the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas change that static.

The BNSF Railroad Foundation is donating $5,000 to the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas. The funds will benefit the nonprofit's backpack program to help ensure no child in the region goes to bed hungry.

Arkansas is ranked second highest, when it comes to child food insecurity in the country. That’s why foodbank outreach coordinator Jennifer Hannah says the donation will go a long way in serving students in the area.

“That money will go towards our backpack program that serves about a thousand kids in northeast Arkansas.”

The backpack program fills the food gap left by the weekend, providing meals to students in need; when they don’t have access to school food. The bags are distributed every Friday before students leave for the weekend.

“In our backpacks, we try to do two breakfasts. So, two little individual bowls of cereal, two shelf-stable milks. We try to do three entrees, so chicken and rice, or chicken noodle soup, SpaghettiOs, things like that. We also do fruit cups as kinda a snack, and we’ll do chicken salad or tuna salad kits.”

Feeding America estimates one in six U.S. children were food deficient last year.

The non-profit and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families say over 32% percent of children in the state face the harsh reality of food insecurity. A number that skyrocketed to what it is now during the pandemic.

“We don’t want to put kids in any type of dangerous situations, so it’s all easy [to] open, easy to prepare," Hannah said. "And that unfortunately, makes it a little more expensive. So, this $5,000 will go a long way in helping with the program."

The Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas' backpack program serves 28 area schools.

The program does not run in the summertime, but Hannah says they will be ready to go with the bags once students are back in the classroom this fall.


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