The Samaritan Community Center’s SnackPacks for Kids program received a $45,000 grant from Tyson Foods in Springdale, the second such donation in the past year.
“No child should ever go hungry,” said Annetta Young, director of corporate social responsibility for Tyson Foods. “The Samaritan Community Center’s snackpack program helps to ensure that doesn’t happen for area school children at-risk for hunger on the weekends, and we’re very proud to support those efforts.”
The Samaritan Community Center started the SnackPacks for Kids program nine years ago. The program focuses on hunger relief for Northwest Arkansas elementary-aged school children who have been identified by school personnel as being most at-risk for hunger and food insecurity on the weekends and during the summer months when school meal programs are not available.
Led by one paid staff member, the program is primarily volunteer driven. During the school year dozens of individuals and volunteer groups donate time each week to pack snackpacks (a plastic grocery bag that contains eight to ten healthy snack food items) at the Rogers Samaritan Center location. The snackpacks are then placed in uniform delivery containers and transported to local schools by volunteer delivery drivers. Rural schools receive monthly delivery by SCC personnel, and school personnel are responsible for ensuring that snackpacks are discreetly provided to children for them to take home on weekends.
During the 2013-2014 school year SCC delivered approximately 6500 snackpacks to 95 elementary schools and Head Start centers each week in all four Northwest Arkansas counties (Washington, Benton, Carroll and Madison). During summer months when schools are not in session snackpacks are available at both the Rogers and Springdale Samaritan Cafés each Thursday, as well as schools that offer summer lunch programs, other nonprofit organizations and church feeding programs.
“National studies have continually shown that lack of proper and adequate nutrition in children directly leads to health problems, behavioral issues and ultimately to the ability to learn," said SCC Executive Director Debbie Rambo. “Many of these children go a day or even a weekend without any significant amount of food available.”
For a complete list of locations where snackpacks are available for pickup this summer visit online.