HOXIE, ARKANSAS (KAIT)
For some children in Region 8 the only hot meal they may get is at school.
So, what do they do when school ends?
For several years the Hoxie School District has been providing breakfast and lunch for free for kids and a very low cost for adults.
Regina Bennett the cafeteria manager at the school says these are like her own children to her.
"They're just as ecstatic to see you in the morning and at lunch time and we're happy to see them. We just have a good old time plus they are getting fed and taken care of. "
For many years these dedicated cafeteria ladies have given up parts of their summers to come prepare hundreds of breakfasts and lunches for the Hoxie summer meal programs. Why do they do it?
Bennett, "There is a need in Lawrence county as well as the surrounding counties. We are able to provide a hot meal to any child 18 and under for free. "
They start with breakfast, by regulation all they have to have is cereal, juice and milk but on Monday, Wednesday and Friday they serve up a hot breakfast as well.
Then they start getting ready for lunch. On today's menu are beans and ham, cornbread, stewed potatoes, mixed greens and diced pears.
Being an Idaho boy I pitched in to help peel the potatoes.
The program is funded by the Department of Human Services and they follow the USDA guidelines for their menus.
One company that takes advantage of the program is Hometown Behavioral Health which has kids all day long during the summer but no kitchen facilities.
Lindsey Hart, "We're not really set up to serve the kids food out of our facility so yeah this is just perfect so we can do the summer program here. "
Caseworker Lindsey Hart says the program also helps the kids keep in a pattern.
"It will help them like you said, stay in the school pattern and get up and get out through the day don't stay on the couch. "
They start serving lunch around 11 o'clock and they serve upwards of 200 meals a day.
Anybody is welcome to eat, kids under 18 eat free and adult plates cost 2 dollars. And people come from all around the area.
Regina Bennett says she doesn't like to brag, but...."We serve pretty good food here, we're kinda famous. "
The program begins the day after school ends and ends the day before the school year begins.