The Community Action Program for Central Arkansas has helped feed 362 children since schools closed amidst the coronavirus outbreak and expects to see the number of hungry students in need rise to 750.

Now that its supply is running low, CAPCA organizers are asking for the community’s help to be able to re-open the student market for hungry students on Monday. To open the market and provide meals to Faulkner County children, the program needs breakfast and lunch items, CAPCA Community Programs Director Melissa Allen said.

Organizers had planned and prepared to open their doors to area students over spring break but opened one week early after Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced all public schools in Arkansas would close by March 17.

The governor has since ordered that schools will remain closed through April 17. At that point, he will determine to re-open the schools or keep them closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

CAPCA organizers have worked to keep local children fed but have run low on supplies.

Lacey Outlaw, the community programs advocate for CAPCA, said the local nonprofit expects 750 children will need its services to make it through the extended break.

“I have school-aged children and I know that with everything going on, it’s put a burden on the parents,” she told the Log Cabin Democrat on Thursday. “A lot of these children rely on the free and reduced meals they receive at school. Now that that’s off the table, it puts an extra burden on their families.”

Students in kindergarten through 12 grade who participate in the CAPCA Student Market program receive a two-week supply of food. This bundle includes 14 breakfast items, 14 lunches, 28 snacks and five drinks. Outlaw said preschoolers and students participating in head start programs can also participate in the CAPCA Student Market.

Organizers said they are grateful for the support they have received to make this program possible but that they are concerned they will not be able to serve children next week because CAPCA is low on supplies.

Specifically, the facility needs:

Milk

Graham crackers / Teddy Grahams

Mashed potatoes

Pasta sides

Rice sides

Ravioli / spaghetti / beefaroni

Pudding

Jello and Jello cups with with fruit

Vienna sausages

Beanie weenies

Spam

Chili

Hormel meals

Tuna kits

Chicken kits

Soup

Mac and cheese

Fruit cups

Beef jerky

Raisins

Bananas

Oranges

Plums

Peaches

Cuties

Apple

Pizza rolls

TV dinners

Pizza

Corn dogs

Sandwich meat

Burritos

Lunchables

Sliced cheese

Breakfast snack packs

Protein kits

Yogurt

Cheese sticks

Pancakes

Pancake / sausage on a stick

Sausage biscuits

Sausage egg and cheese croissants

Toaster Strudels

Pot pies and breakfast pot pies

French toast sticks

Because many local stores are limiting the number of items customers can purchase, Outlaw said it’s difficult to shop for and fill the pantry.

Organizers ask that donors bring microwavable mac-and-cheese cups and canned items with pop tops because not all families served through the program have can openers.

“All of it should be able to be prepared without a can opener,” Allen previously told the Log Cabin. “Everything out here are items (the children) can prepare themselves. That’s all part of the empowerment aspect.”

Food and monetary donations can be dropped off at the student market or submitted online at www.cap cainc.org. To send a monetary donation online, donors must specifically earmark the funds for the student pantry.

The CAPCA Student Market is located in Suite 120 at 707 Robins St. in Conway. Individuals who want to donate items over the weekend can call 501-269-9351 to meet a CAPCA volunteer.

Should the center obtain enough food, the student market will be open to area children from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@thecabin.net.

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