PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Schools are working to make sure children stay fed during the summer months.
Cheryl McMurtry is the Director of Nutrition in Food Services at Paragould, and says she worked at the school for over twenty years.
McMurtry says Paragould has been participating in a summer meals program sponsored by the USDA Child Nutrition Unit out of Little Rock for many years now.
This year the staff decided to make a change, they're adding a bus route to pick up the children that need transportation, and bring them to the high school. "We just want to reach all the kids that we can. We're going to run a bus route this year and bring them up to Paragould High School. The bus routes will start around eleven and the children will be back at their homes by twelve-thirty."
Breakfast will be served from 8a-9a and lunch from 11a-12p.
McMurtry says the reason for the new bus route is simple, an increase in need. "We just want to reach more kids. The program is there. It's up to us to try and reach out and try to get whoever we can. It's just a growing need. There's more grandparents raising kids on fixed incomes and it's just a harder economy, now. Every little bit helps. And when the kids come here they will get a nutritious meal."
Some of the requests she gets can really open your eyes to the hardships people are dealing with. "I've already had one lady call that has four children that she wants us to come and pick up. And to feed four children every day, that's a pretty big grocery bill."
The summer food service starts on Monday, and McMurtry says anyone interested in having their child picked up can call her office at 239-8806 or the bus shop at 239-9303. Children 18 and younger may participate.
The only requirement is that the child be able to sit up at the table and if transportation by bus is needed, they child must be at least kindergarten age.
For a listing of participating schools and times, log onto this website.