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 helpfamilies keep their kids fed, but now the pantry shelves are bare.
More than 100 children receive food from this pantry eachmonth, but now there's nothing left to give them. Organizers say the communityhas helped them meet the need in the past, and now they hope they'll step uponce again.
Samantha Hayes, a parent educator, runs the food pantry,which employees opened about five years ago at the Batesville Early Learningand Enrichment Center after noticing a growing need.
"If you're hungry, you can't learn," Hayes said. "Your belly'sgrowling. Your attention is not there, so it's a great program. We enjoy givingthe food to the families."
She and the other workers at the Parents as Teachers programdeliver food to about 120 children each month, but now the food selection isvery limited.
"We have some carrots and some peanut butter," Hayes said whilepointing to the mostly empty shelves at the pantry. "That's what we've beendown to for about a month."
Hayes normally sees supplies dwindle when the new schoolyear starts.
"In the summer those are our worst months because thechildren are home, and the families need more food," she said. "During the schoolyear, they can eat at school, so we hurt in the summer – our food pantry does."
Deliveries from the Arkansas Rice Depot do help keep theshelves stocked, but Hayes says it's never enough without other donations.
"We get the phone calls every day, and it breaks our heartswhen 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 caneasily open.
"Anything pop top – soup, Vienna sausages…ravioli is great,"Hayes said. "Granola bars, cereal – the little fruit cups are fabulous. Theycan just open that and eat the fruit.
"You'd be surprised at just how much the little fruit cupsand the granola bars excite the children, and the cereal – they just love thecereal," she added.
The pantry released this list of some kid-friendly fooditems that people can donate:
- Fruit cups
- Ramen noodles
- Pop-top soups
- Easy Mac macaroni & cheese
- Canned tuna kits
- Granola bars
- Apple sauce
- Carnation instant breakfast
- Fruit juice boxes
- Peanut butter crackers
- Fruit snacks, rollups, etc.
- Hormel ready meals
If anyone is interested in helping stock the food pantry shelves, call the BatesvilleEarly Learning and Enrichment Center at 870-793-0627 or drop off any items atthe preschool, located at 1900 Lyon Street in Batesville.