Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas receives $1, 000 grant - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas receives $1, 000 grant

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas just got some much needed help, with the Arkansas Community Foundation rewarding the organization with a grant totaling $1,000.

Executive Director for the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Christie Jordan, says this money will be used for the backpack program in the Forrest City School District. "When we look at our poverty population," Jordan said. "St. Francis County has a high concentration of families living in poverty and that's one of the locations that we've chosen to influence childhood hunger through our backpack program, trying to serve children in that area. We currently serve 80 kids in the Forrest City Elementary Schools."

Jordan says they started the backpack program several years ago and it's proven to be very effective. "We've been doing the backpack program in Northeast Arkansas in a number of schools for several years," Jordan said. "We currently serve over 500 children in Northeast Arkansas. The backpack program is a great way to send food home specifically for children. We would love to serve more children through this method; however, it is fairly costly for us to serve the children. We buy products specifically geared towards children. Things that they like to eat, but that also have good nutritional value. And so, it costs us about $150 per child per school year to serve children through the backpack program."

Jordan says what makes this program so special is the attention it gives to children. "The backpack program is special because it focuses specifically on children who are at risk of hunger," Jordan said. "We have food pantries located in all twelve counties that we serve in Northeast Arkansas and there are lots of families with children that access those food pantries, but this is a specific way we're targeting children who at that particular school that their school teachers and counselors feel that they are at specific risk and need help at home."

Jordan says the children currently on the backpack program don't see the three meals a day that other children do.

Superintendent of the Forrest City School District, Dr. Jerry Woods, says they're thrilled the backpack program is available to their students in need and is going to continue. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our students and their families," Woods said. "We're excited we'll be able to continue this at a higher level. We feel fortunate to be a recipient at this time. This will be a great benefit to our students and families."

Jordan says there's a list of people just waiting to get on. "We get calls every month, about schools being interested in becoming a role in our backpack program. And right now, just from a budgetary standpoint, we feel we have taken on all that we can. Again, we would love to do more if we had more funds available to support the backpack program."

If you would like to sponsor a child, or learn more about the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, call 932-3663 or 932-FOOD. You can also log onto their website.

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