Since September is Hunger Action Month, we’re joining nonprofits across the country in advocating, educating, and providing ways to contribute to the fight against hunger. As we begin the ‘22-’23 school year, there are a few changes to both school lunch and after-school meal programs thanks to the advocacy work of organizations like Feeding America and many more. We also want to take this opportunity to update everyone on some exciting changes happening at Be Mighty thanks to the help of generous donors and partners.
It’s important to understand that hunger isn’t just a short-term problem, but an issue that can have long-lasting consequences. In households that struggle with food insecurity, children are at higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as asthma, and adolescents are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.
According to a study done by Northwestern, “just weeks into the pandemic, more than 1 in every 3 households with children and nearly half of all mothers with young children struggled with food insecurity.” Congress responded with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, but the aid and flexibilities provided in this bill were set to expire June 30, 2022. That’s why the House Committee on Education and Labor rolled out the Keep Kids Fed Act earlier this year. The Keep Kids Fed Act includes waivers that will keep meal costs from increasing, increase reimbursement rates for meal sponsors, and enhance support for afterschool and summer meals.
There are several other waivers for the ‘22-’23 school year providing much needed aid to school lunch and breakfast programs, as well as after-school meal sites. For the most part, these waivers are renewing many of the flexibilities provided to meal sites due to COVID that are still necessary today. The USDA is allowing the return of non-congregate meal service (grab-n-go) for after-school meal sites like us, as well as breakfast and lunch in case of school closures. We are excited to provide the grab-n-go option to parents again at the libraries, since it is often much more convenient than eating on-site. Since the previous waivers expired in June, we could only provide on-site meals over the summer, which saw a drastic decline in meals served. Many parents who regularly get meals from Be Mighty are either on the go or simply don’t have their children with them when they come to the library, so it’s great that this resource is becoming viable again.
In addition to the return of grab-n-go, we’re also excited to announce Be Mighty METRO, formerly Rides-to-Reads, to provide caregivers and kids with transportation to CALS meal sites and programs. Patrons can apply at participating CALS branches (Childrens, Dee Brown, Fletcher, and Williams) to receive a metro ID card and monthly bus passes. We are also working with CALS to operate seven Little Free Pantries (LFPs) in the Little Rock area. LFPs are stationed at the libraries and provide the community with shelf-stable foods and other items like hygiene products. While we do stock the LFPs periodically with the support of grant funds, we also heavily rely on donations to keep them running. The food has been going quickly, which shows people have been getting use out of them, and the program so far has been a huge success. More information on how to donate and what items are accepted can be found on our social media, (@BeMightyLittleRock on Facebook and Instagram).
As a grant-funded program, all the resources we provide are made possible by generous donations and grants. We want to thank the City of Little Rock, the National Recreation & Park Association, and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance for their renewed support in our mission. We also want to thank the Delta Dental Foundation, the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable Trust, and Tyson Foods for the funding to serve adult meals, which will start next week at select meal sites (Children’s, Dee Brown, Fletcher, Main, McMath, Nixon, Sanders, and Terry).
If you’re looking for ways to get involved this September, visit Feeding America’s website for ways to contribute or volunteer during Hunger Action Month. If you have a child who wants to get involved too, or maybe just needs volunteer hours, keep an eye out for more information on our Be Mighty Youth Task Force! We’re so excited to launch BMYTF for teens 12-18 this school year. It’s a great opportunity for Little Rock youth to join the conversation on local food security and become leaders in the movement.
Let’s get up, get out, and make a difference this September!
Additional ways to get involved with Be Mighty:
- Donate to our Little Free Pantries through your phone or computer with our Amazon wishlist!
- Learn more about how to volunteer during meal service.
- Are you or someone you know a professional or amateur chef? Sign up to be a Cook Along partner.
- Apply for the Be Mighty Youth Task Force.
- Other resources can be found on our Linktree.