JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - School districts around Region 8 participate in backpack programs that send backpacks full of food home with kids for the weekend.
These backpacks are vital for kids who may not have food at home and rely on school lunches.
With winter weather on the way, schools are worried if they don't send backpacks home sooner than Friday students may go without meals for more than just the weekend.
That is why school districts are changing the schedule and sending backpacks home early.
"Getting ready for the possible weather, we went ahead and got the food backpacks and decided to stuff them with enough food to get them through several days, more than just the weekend," MicroSociety Magnet School Principal Misty Doyle said.
MicroSociety Magnet School packs 72 backpacks to feed more than 200 kids. Doyle said winter weather is no exception.
"For several of our kids this may be the only the breakfast and the lunch, so especially when we are going to be out for a long period of time we try to make sure they have enough food to get them through those days, those snow days," Doyle said.
Joy Holt, MicroSociety Magnet School counselor, spent the morning stuffing backpacks with crackers, Easy-Mac, ramen noodles, and Pop-Tarts.
"Many of our kids go home and they have a limited amount of food at home," Doyle said. "And they have to also feed themselves so we try to give food that they can easily open."
While it was an extra stress, Holt said it's worth it. "Some families will just say thank you so much," Holt said. "We really appreciate it, even just like peanut butter and crackers, because we can't afford to buy the little things."
Backpacks were sent home Tuesday afternoon in case school is canceled Wednesday or later this week. While it uprooted the schedule, Doyle said it's necessary.
"In a situation where we are trying to get food home quickly when there is a storm coming, we adjust our schedules and I work with her closely to make sure she can get in the closet and stuff all of the backpacks that we have," Doyle said.
All of the food is donated to the school from various community organizations. Doyle said sending extra food home comes at a cost.
"Definitely depletes our food closet," Doyle said. "We are very blessed that we can call our local organizations that have been so generous with us and just say we are low."
Paragould School District also packed backpacks with extra food on Tuesday and sent bags home early to avoid any kids going without food during snow days.