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Afterschool Meal Programs Feed Arkansas Children

Arkansas children are able to get a meal after school even when sometimes it may be the only one of the day.
Arkansas children are able to get a meal after school even when sometimes it may be the only one of the day.

This is thanks to "Afterschool Meal Programs" across the state catering to the nearly 30 percent of kids in Arkansas below the poverty line.

Dozens of providers gathered Thursday (11/29) to talk about a new funding source for programs in Arkansas that help these low-income families by serving a nutritious meal and providing enrichment programs to their kids.

Dozens of kids are fed meals and enrichment through food and activities every day at Arkansas Dreams Center in Little Rock.

"The program is awesome," said one mother, Felicia Allen.

Allen has an 8 year old daughter and a 9 and 10 year old son.

It's a lot to take care of for a mom trying to go back to school.

The Arkansas Dreams Center takes over where a parent just sometimes can't and they aren't the only ones.

"There's a lot of families that are really struggling and that number has actually increased significantly since the recession," said Crystal Fitzsimons with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) out of Washington D.C.

FRAC helped organize the summit meeting Thursday called "Eliminating Hunger After School: The Opportunity for Statewide Expansion of the Afterschool Meal Program."

Bishop Leodies & Goldie Warren Family Life Center hosted the event. Terrell Hall is one of their Afterschool Meal Program organizers.

Hall said, "It's not just getting a healthy meal but they also get that enrichment that they need to kind of bridge that gap."

Hall's organization only provides meals and activities during the summer. They hope to expand to the school months as well.

In addition to after school, some of these programs are looking into how they can implement and expand their operations to weekends and even holidays.
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