JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Do you have any idea how many children go hungry in Region 8?
Director of Development for the NEA Food Bank Vicki Pillow said they just got some much-needed help.
"The Food Bank received a grant award of $2,500 from the BNSF Railway Foundation," Pillow said. "We are so excited because that is for our backpack program. That will help us provide food for children at risk of hunger who may not have food on the weekends."
This is a program designed by the Food Bank of NEA to help meet the needs of hungry children.
"The Backpack Program," Pillow said. "Provides a backpack of food of three meals a day for Saturday and Sunday when kids may not have access to other food. They can have access to the breakfast and lunches during the school day, but on the weekends, lots of families don't have access to food and may not know where their next meal is coming from. So, the backpack allows kids to have food for the weekend."
Pillow said this donation couldn't come at a better time.
"School is about to start," Pillow said. "This award from BNSF Railway Foundation is awesome because it helps us start the year off great. We've got over 1,200 kids in our backpack program. We're always looking for ways to try and expand the program. We've had businesses, civic organizations and churches step forward and say what can we do to help."
Officials say that 1,200 children are a large number.
But, according to Pillow, it just scratches the surface.
"We've had new stats come out," Pillow said. "They tell us there are over 31,000 children who are food insecure in Northeast Arkansas. Just in our 12-county service area. That means their families don't necessarily know where that next meal is coming from. That's a huge number of children in need. So, we do as much as we can to get as many of them food for the weekend as we possibly can."
So, why not add more children.
Pillow said it's because they want to make sure the need of that child are met for as long as the need is there.
"We grow this program slowly for a reason," Pillow said. "We want to make sure if a child gets into the program and they have to be on the program for eight years, we know they can be on it. We can sustain it. We do not want to put a child on a program and then say next year we don't have the money for that. So, we wait to make sure we can sustain the children we have on the program."
Pillow said just one dollar can make a huge difference in a child's life.
"Because we work with Feeding America," Pillow said. "We can provide four meals for every dollar that's donated to us. So, because we work in this collaboration with them we can provide so much more with the donated money and get more food to more kids."
If you would like to help, call the food bank at 932-3663 or 932-FOOD.
For more information about the food bank, log onto this website.
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