Batesville school finds its food pantry shelves bare - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Batesville school finds its food pantry shelves bare

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Schools try to feed their students' minds as well as their stomachs.

A preschool in Batesville even opened a food pantry to help families keep their kids fed, but now the pantry shelves are bare.

More than 100 children receive food from this pantry each month, but now there's nothing left to give them. Organizers say the community has helped them meet the need in the past, and now they hope they'll step up once again.

Samantha Hayes, a parent educator, runs the food pantry, which employees opened about five years ago at the Batesville Early Learning and Enrichment Center after noticing a growing need.

"If you're hungry, you can't learn," Hayes said. "Your belly's growling. Your attention is not there, so it's a great program. We enjoy giving the food to the families."

She and the other workers at the Parents as Teachers program deliver food to about 120 children each month, but now the food selection is very limited.

"We have some carrots and some peanut butter," Hayes said while pointing to the mostly empty shelves at the pantry. "That's what we've been down to for about a month."

Hayes normally sees supplies dwindle when the new school year starts.

"In the summer those are our worst months because the children are home, and the families need more food," she said. "During the school year, they can eat at school, so we hurt in the summer – our food pantry does."

Deliveries from the Arkansas Rice Depot do help keep the shelves stocked, but Hayes says it's never enough without other donations.

"We get the phone calls every day, and it breaks our hearts when we have to tell them we don't have anything left in the pantry," she said. "We do refer them to other pantries, but we want to provide for them as well."

What she says they need now are food items that children can easily open.

"Anything pop top – soup, Vienna sausages…ravioli is great," Hayes said. "Granola bars, cereal – the little fruit cups are fabulous. They can just open that and eat the fruit.

"You'd be surprised at just how much the little fruit cups and the granola bars excite the children, and the cereal – they just love the cereal," she added.

The pantry released this list of some kid-friendly food items that people can donate:

  • Cereal
  • Fruit cups
  • Ramen noodles
  • Pop-top soups
  • Easy Mac macaroni & cheese
  • Pudding
  • Oatmeal
  • Canned tuna kits
  • Granola bars
  • Apple sauce
  • Ravioli
  • Jelly
  • Carnation instant breakfast
  • Fruit juice boxes
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Saltines
  • Pop-Tarts
  • Fruit snacks, rollups, etc.
  • Hormel ready meals

If anyone is interested in helping stock the food pantry shelves, call the Batesville Early Learning and Enrichment Center at 870-793-0627 or drop off any items at the preschool, located at 1900 Lyon Street in Batesville.

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