JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - With school out, a lot of needy children could miss meals that they'd usually get while attending class.
The United Christian Fellowship Outreach Incorporated has started their free meals program for school aged children.
"Still expected to have around 400 to 450 a day," said Director Ester Ellis.
She said programs like this one are important to have especially in the summer months.
"There is such a large number of children who qualify for free or reduced meals," said Ellis.
The program is funded by the Department of Human Services and sponsored by the church so that each meal is free.
"We service 18 and younger, we don't charge anybody," said Ellis.
They focus on certain locations where the need for a free lunch is greatest.
"We're trying to go to the at risk neighborhoods and make sure that the kids are still receiving meals," said Ellis. "A nutritious meal during the summer months when schools not in."
This year they have decided to hold the program at several different apartment complexes to make it easier to get to.
"We want to make our program accessible," said Ellis. "Sometimes if they have to come to you, they may not be able to get there with not having transportation and things like that so by us coming to them, we can definitely assure they are getting a meal."
Through this program a child is able to receive a meal every day of the week for the entire summer.
"Monday through Friday at the apartments and on Saturday and Sunday, we do it at our activity site which is at our church," said Ellis.
A free meal is not the only thing the kids are able to get. The program has activities to keep them occupied while out of school.
"We have enrichment programs that we do on Saturdays," said Ellis. "We have an activity site so we try to keep the kids engaged academically and physically."
Ellis said the program has brought her a lot of joy. Helping out kids in need is something she says she would never give up.
"Because we already do an after school program, there are so many kids that already knew me so they were so happy to see me and so its just fulfilling I love it," said Ellis.
The locations of the United Christian Fellowship Outreach program include, Melrose and Marshall, Cedar Parks, Stotts Park, Country Garden, Walker Court, Bel Air and Christian Fellowship.
Also, for a link to other summer food programs.