Food For Kids provides hungry children in Arkansas with backpacks filled with kid friendly food

Food For Kids

Because a hungry child can't learn.
For over 35,000 Arkansas school children and their siblings, the Food For Kids program is the only thing that stands between them and hunger. The Arkansas Rice Depot provides new backpacks and “kid-friendly” ready-to-eat food to participating schools at no cost to the school. Through a principal-appointed program coordinator, the food is distributed to students who display educational, physical, or emotional problems at school due to hunger at home. Arkansas Rice Depot also provides food and infant items for pregnant teens, teen moms and their babies to relieve some of the burden these young women face and increase the likelihood that they will finish high school.

All children's hunger needs are not the same. Some students may need food sent home in a backpack each night. Others may only need food sent home on Friday for the weekend.

Fast Facts

  • Serving more than 35,000 Arkansas children 600 public schools throughout Arkansas.
  • Food For Kids was the original backpack program
  • Started in 1994, adapted by organizations in 40 states nationwide and most recently in Mexico

Sample Menu - Weekend Backpack

Dinner: Chef Boyardee Dinner, Green Beans, Crackers, Pudding Cup
Evening Snack: Peanuts
Breakfast: Instant Oatmeal and a Fruit Cup
Lunch: Beanie Weenies, Cheese and Crackers
Mid-Day Snack: Fruit & Grain Bar
Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, Crackers, Pudding Cup
Evening Snack: Granola Berry Crunch Bar
Breakfast: Cereal, Applesauce
Lunch: Vienna Sausage, Corn, Fruit Cup
Mid-Day Snack: Peanut Butter Crackers
Dinner: Tamales, Green Beans, Crackers, Nut Mix
Evening Snack: Milk & Cereal Bar

A School Asks For Help

In 1994, a school nurse in Little Rock called the Arkansas Rice Depot and told of children coming to her office complaining of headaches, tummy aches and other health problems. She soon realized that their problems were caused by having little or no food to eat at home. The lack of nutritious food outside of school breakfasts and lunches also caused problems in the classroom for these students. The school counselor reported students who could not pay attention, were disruptive and simply did not try – all problems that can be caused by hunger. That one phone call was the beginning of the Food For Kids program, a program that has since been replicated across the nation.

Success Stories

Statistical studies show that children on the Food For Kids program improve their grades, get along better with classmates and teachers, and are much healthier. School nurses, counselors and principals say that the smiles they see on children's faces are the best result of all.

Without Food For Kids:

“Christine and Elizabeth each lost 30 pounds over the summer. They didn't have it to lose. Their nurse is asking for Food For Kids food as soon as possible.” Clarksville, Arkansas

“This student has actually begun to like herself and is getting along with others. Prior to food being sent home, she was in the Principal's office several times for behavior issues.” First Grade Teacher

“Tracy lives in a two-bedroom house with a family of nine. Granddad has Alzheimer's and has one bedroom. Mom and Dad have the other. The six kids sleep in the living room. They sleep on a mattress on the floor. They take turns getting to sleep on the couch. They are often without food.” Bearden, Arkansas

“This student has developed a more trusting relationship with me, has opened up about situations at home which we've been able to assist with. Now a much happier child.” Second Grade Teacher

How you can help

Your tax-deductible donation provides so much to many who have so little:

  • $15 buys one new backpack and a weekend's worth of food for one child
  • $30 provides food for one child for one month
  • $200 provides one month’s food for all the hungry children in one school
  • $2,400 provides a year’s supply of food for all the hungry children in one school

Help students with your donation of food: Donate ready-to-eat or simple-to-prepare foods that can be sent home in backpacks. Organize food drives in your church, business, school or civic club. Download the Food For Kids Wish List

To find out more about how you can help, please contact us at 501.565.8855 or online.

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