CAPCA’s (Community Action Program for Central Arkansas) Summer Student Market has had a busy summer so far.

The local nonprofit opened the program – kindergarten through 12th grade – in June as a way to help with food insecurity issues that happen during the summer months when student are out of school.

The Log Cabin Democrat has previously spoken with officials in Conway School District who have confirmed food-insecure student populations have continued to grow on Conway campuses.

“In Conway, if you look at the last 10 years [39.16 in 2009 and 49.45 in 2018] our free and reduced percentage has grown, although, now the last few years it’s stayed fairly stable,” communications specialist Heather Kendrick told the LCD.

CAPCA Community Programs Director Melissa Allen said the market opened May 28. She said they plan to continue to offer aid right up until school starts back in August or until “donations run out.”

“We understand that during the summer months, many students face higher food insecurity and we want to help with that,” she told the LCD.

Officials took to CAPCA’s Facebook page on July 10 to share how they have done just that.

“Because of YOU and YOUR support,” the post reads. “We have provided 834 services to 497 students in Faulkner County this summer in the market, so far!!”

In total, 23,604 meals, 23,604 snacks and 4,215 drinks have made a “huge impact,” on the students, which is “lifechanging,” 497 kids “empowered,” by knowing their community “loves and supports them,” the post states.

The CAPCA Summer Student Market is open between 8:15 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 - 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday at 707 Robins St., Suite 120, in Conway.

To receive assistance, students must be present and have to complete the agency application, but are not required to bring anything with them. Once the application is complete, they will receive a student market card.

Students are allowed to select the items they need, the process “designed to empower the student, teach them valuable social skills and most importantly to let them know they are loved and supported by their community,” the market website reads,” and can visit the market during spring break every two weeks to receive 14 breakfast items, 14 lunch items, 28 snacks and five drink items.

Each food item CAPCA gives out is intentionally easy for students to prepare including microwaveable items like macaroni and cheese and Chef Boyardee varieties, popcorn and chili but also includes jello, applesauce, peanuts, Gatorade, Ritz Crackers, beef jerky options, peanut butter cups and more. A full list can be found at wwww.amzn.to/2SiGiAh.

The market service is provided through community donations.

One resident has even taken it upon herself recently to point friends and acquaintances to donate toward the cause.

“For my birthday this year, I’m asking for donations to [CAPCA],” Crystal Certain, posted to Facebook.

Certain is a teacher at Conway High School and founder of Certain Little Free Class Pantry, which feeds high school students, using the guiding principle “take what you need, leave what you can,” encouraging a no-judgement environment, breaking down stereotypes among teenage peers.

Certain created the event on July 1 with a $500 goal. As of 6 p.m. Monday, Certain had surpassed that original $500 goal and raised more than $515 toward the summer food pantry.

“CAPCA operates the Student Market in the summer to keep our most vulnerable kids fed and runs programs that help educate and lift up our entire community throughout the year!” she wrote on the fundraising page. “Every little bit will positively impact someone in our community.”

CAPCA’s Melissa Allen thanked Certain for creating the fundraiser.

“Melissa Allen you guys do great work!” Certain replied.

The volunteer with the site, register at www.bit.ly/2NVhwaR.

For more information, contact Allen at 501-269-9351.