JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Thousands of children are going hungry right here in Region 8.
CEO of the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas Christie Jordan said they have reached a critical point and need the public's support immediately.
"We need 100 sponsors to step up," Jordan said. "To sponsor children in our backpack program so that we will be funded for this school year. At the beginning of last school year, we ended up taking on about 400 new students and grew our backpack program from 800 to 1200 kids. Another organization that had a backpack program lost their funding. We didn't want any of the kids to go without food, so we stepped up and had some one-time grants and we dipped into some of our reserve funds and we supported those 400 children."
Now, that money is gone.
Jordan said they've found sponsorship for 300 of the children, but that leaves 100 going home hungry.
"We don't ever want to have to cut services," Jordan said. "But we simply cannot spend money we don't have. So, we really need 100 sponsors to step up so we can continue to provide that weekly backpack of food to those children so they don't have to worry on the weekends. We want them to be able to have food for the weekends so they can be children and enjoy the weekend."
But that's not the worst of it.
Jordan said there's a huge number of children waiting to get on the backpack program.
"Although we have 1200 kids enrolled in our backpack program," Jordan said. "There are over 30,000 children in Northeast Arkansas that live in poverty. So, we have a waiting list for our backpack program. So, if we get more than 100 sponsors, we will look at expanding our program. That's always our goal. We would love to expand each of our programs and to serve more people."
Once a child is selected to be on the backpack program, they stay on it until there's no longer a need.
"I'm huge on sustainability of our programs," Jordan said. "So, when we take on a school and we support them, we want to be able to do it for years to come. We want to be able to keep all those children we enrolled last year, all 1200, enrolled for the current school year. Until that happens, we won't take on any new backpacks or any new schools. Hopefully, we can get more than 100 sponsors to step up so that we can look at future growth of the backpack program."
The total number of children in Northeast Arkansas at risk of hunger is 31,090 kids.
It costs $150 to sponsor a child for a year.
If you would like to help, you can call the food bank at (870) 932-3663 or (870) 932-FOOD.
You can also log onto their website.
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