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Summer Meals Program for Students Kicks Off in Arkansas

Text Food to 877 - 877 to locate a feeding site near you.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - This summer it's all about free meals for kids and a simple message, text food.

The Arkansas Summer Meals Program kicked off Tuesday at Laman Library in North Little Rock, because so many eligible kids are missing the opportunity during the summer, to have a free meal.

Patty Barker Director of the Arkansas No Kid Hungry Campaign gave startling statistics.

"Over 280-thousand kids in the Arkansas public school system are eligible for free or reduced priced lunch at school only about half of those eat breakfast and 15 percent are accessing summer programs where they can receive a meal," she said.

Eddy Longoria, Special Nutrition Programs Director for the USDA says getting the word out is key.

"The biggest barrier to that is communication the word isn't getting out, we have to get the word out that there is free meals to children 18 years old and younger," she says.

Laman Library and Boys and Girls Clubs in local communities will serve as feeding sites around the state, at no charge.

"It's a healthy meal and children who participate in a free lunch program will have access to that during the summer," adds Longoria.

First Lady Ginger Beebe has put a lot of time and effort into ensuring kids in Arkansas are provided nutritious meals and while she praises past gains, she says more needs to be done.

"We must talk to our neighbors, those that we work with, friends, we must get the word out," she says.

The word and number this summer to remember..."Text Food to 877 - 877".

You can also call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE, or visit www.whyhunger.org/findfood to locate a meal serving site.
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