During the current economic conditions, this memo is to help school district personnel assist students and their families in accessing food assistance services in Arkansas. With so many households hit by layoffs, unemployment, and other economic hardships it is a good time to remember the resources available to assist the families.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate in one Arkansas county has increased to over 13%. The following is a link to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website that shows the percentage of unemployment, by county, in Arkansas as well as the net change in unemployment between December 2007 and December 2008 (the latest month data is available). http://data.bls.gov/map/servlet/map.servlet.MapToolServlet?State=05&datatype=unemployment&year=2008&period=M12&survey=la&map=county&seasonal=u
FREE AND REDUCED PRICE MEAL BENEFITS AT SCHOOL:
Distribution/Redistribution of Meal Applications:
School districts may, at any time during the school year, send Free and Reduced Price Meal Applications (with eligibility guidelines) to businesses that have had or are anticipating layoffs.
Districts may also send reminders to all households that Meal Applications may be turned in at any time during the school year. If the household economic status changes during the school year it may be beneficial to the student for the household to complete a meal application.
If the student is already receiving reduced price benefits and the household circumstances have changed then a new application can be completed and the student may qualify for higher benefits.
If a student transfers from another school district, the receiving district may contact the transferring district and accept the student’s eligibility determination. Additional information about this procedure can be found of page 37 of the 'Eligibility Manual for School Meals', Part 3, Section O: Transferring Eligibility between Local Education Agencies (LEAs).
Direct Certification at Local Level:
Although the Department of Education provides a Direct Certification list to districts at the beginning of the school year, the district may contact the local Department of Human Services (DHS) office for updates throughout the school year. Please refer to the 'Eligibility Manual for School Meals,' Part 6, section C: Additional Direct Certification Methods used by Local District (optional) on page 65 for more information.
The following is a link to DHS County Office contact information: http://www.arkansas.gov/dhs/NewDHS/CountyOffice/CountyOffices1.htm#Arkansas1
Households may also be reminded of the availability of internet access through computers at the local public library. The family can use the internet to research other sources of access to food such as food pantries, etc.
THE EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (TEFAP):
The purpose of the TEFAP program is to improve the nutritional quality of diets by providing nutritious foods at no cost to eligible Arkansas families and individuals. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) provide foods to the State which in turn are provided to non-profit agencies such as Community Action Program Agencies, Food Banks, Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens and other community or faith based organizations for distribution to the public.
There is not an application process for determining eligibility for individuals receiving a meal in a soup kitchen.
A completed application and determination of eligibility is required at Food Pantries and Public Distributions of USDA foods. Persons may apply at participating Food Pantries and Distribution Sites. Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for TEFAP foods.
• Identity – Applicants must provide a picture ID such as an Arkansas driver’s license or other document to prove identity.
• Residence – The applicant must live in the area served by the organization distributing USDA foods.
• Income – The applicant’s declared household income must be at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the Household size.
• Families receiving Food Stamps automatically qualify to receive USDA foods.
• Foster Children may be considered separate from their foster parents when the income of the foster parents is over the program guidelines.
Attached is a spreadsheet by County of the distribution sites in Arkansas. Additional information may also be found at http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/programs/tefap/
ARKANSAS RICE DEPOT FOOD FOR KIDS:
Food For Kids is a simple program. The Arkansas Rice Depot provides new backpacks and 'kid-friendly' ready-to-eat food to participating schools. Through a program coordinator appointed by the school principal, the food is distributed to students based on need.
Some students are simply provided a high-energy snack at school. Many others are provided with a backpack at the end of the day that is filled with nutritious foods that children can prepare themselves or eat with little or no preparation.
During the 2006-2007 school year, Food For Kids assisted more than 18,000 hungry children in 502 schools across the state with backpacks filled with food, school supplies, personal care products and other items.
If a school district not participating in the Food For Kids program would like to become involved, contact the Rice Depot by calling 501-565-8855 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Food For Kids go to: http://www.ricedepot.org/food_for_kids1.htm
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION:
ARKANSAS HUNGER RELIEF ALLIANCE (AHRA):
The mission of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is to reduce hunger through a unified effort to provide hunger relief, education and advocacy. This goal will be accomplished by:
• Building reliable and continuing sources of nutritious food for the hungry.
• Securing food and funding to assist members in meeting the needs of less fortunate people.
• Promoting hunger relief organizations and stimulating planning for effective and efficient hunger relief programs.
• Conducting advocacy, networking, research, education and awareness activities surrounding the issue of hunger.
The AHRA is committed to making hunger a thing of the past in Arkansas. The AHRA is a non-profit collaborative network of hunger relief organizations throughout Arkansas working with local, state and federal organizations to keep food on the tables of fellow Arkansans who need it most. The AHRA and its members provided more than 12 million meals to hungry Arkansans in 2005. Additional information may be found at http://www.arhungeralliance.org/