FORT SMITH, Ark (KFSM)-- Fort Smith Community Services Clearinghouse is celebrating 30 years of donating food to local children who need it most.
In 1989, the nonprofit organization began the "backpack program" serving two schools and four children. Now, their reach is spread across seven counties, 142 schools and 2,400 kids.
“Through the vendors and the cooperation of the community, we’ve gotten the price down, and funding has gone up. Which allows us to go from 1,200 to 1,400 to 2,000 to 2,400," said Community Services Clearinghouse Director of Development Chuck Goux.
Every Friday volunteers bag up food and deliver to schools.
“Children can come back to school on Monday ready to learn. We know that if a child does not eat over the weekend it takes four meals for them to get their electrolytes back on course so they can concentrate, behave and actually be able to accept an education," said Goux.
School employees collect the bags and put them in the receiving children's backpacks while they're away at recess.
"Something that is really cool about the snack bags they send home is that it’s all items that students can prepare themselves. They don’t need to use the stove, they don’t need to use the oven. It’s something that our kids have that’s ready to go. They’re capable of using to feed themselves when they’re hungry," said Sunnymede Elementary School Counselor Kelsey Struckhoff.
Goux said it costs $2 for the food slipped into the kid's backpacks, and they’re always accepting more volunteers and donations.