Programs fighting hunger during the summer

CHERRY VALLEY, AR (KAIT)- For many students, Friday is the last day of school before summer break. While most kids look forward to a summer without class and assignments, some students depend on school meals.

Hunger in Arkansas does not take a summer break. The Cherry Valley food pantry opened their doors 5 years ago and have come a long way in the number of people they serve.

"What do they do when school is out," said Joan Ball, director of the Cherry Valley Food Pantry. "When we got a little, we'll give a little, when we got a lot we will give a lot."

The Cherry Valley food pantry is fully stocked and as school lets out for the summer, they will have to give a little more to the families they serve.

"Seventy-five percent of our kids at school are on free and reduced lunch which gives you an idea of what the community is like," Ball said. "The need is real great right here."

In the Cherry Valley area, the food pantry serves nearly 100 people a week, which has grown over the past 5 years.

"The first year we gave out 40,000 pounds of food which seemed like an enormous amount but last year we gave out 172,000 of food," she said.

Most of that food comes from the Northeast Arkansas Food Bank in Jonesboro. The Cherry Valley food pantry is located at the old Cherry Valley Elementary School off Hwy 1.

"The reason I started this with being on the school board and being at school a lot, teachers were telling me that the only meal a lot of those gets got was at school," Ball told Region 8 News.

Although they don't have the money to start a summer food program, Ball said they try to give more food to those families.

"If we know that there are kids in the family in which we do, then we give things we would know kids would love," she said.

The food pantry only asks for proof of income and an ID.

"A card will be brought back to the newsroom and that box will be filled according to how many is in the family and whether it's teenagers or babies or whatever," Ball said.

The pantry has 20 volunteers that help out at the food pantry every week

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.