Fighting Childhood Hunger
Samaritan Community Center (SCC) packs and distributes 6,000 snackpacks each week to 165 schools in four counties throughout Northwest Arkansas during the regular school year. Our purpose in distributing snackpacks is to provide some weekend food for children who are at-risk for food insecurity. 26,000 children suffer from food insecurity in our local community, and currently we have enough funding to serve around one in five of these children.
The SnackPacks for Kids program is largely donation driven and we have developed “SnackPacks+” events for the purpose of raising additional funds and to enhance the experience of community involvement towards solving the problem of food insecurity. SnackPacks+ events combine the acts of giving food and packing SnackPacks.
SnackPacks Distributed In 2020
HOW TO HELP
One-Time or Monthly Donation
Today, it costs approximately $60,000 each month to sustain the SFK program. You can help us continue to ensure hungry children in NWA do not suffer food insecurity on weekends by donating to our SnackPack Fund.
We are currently accepting the following donations for this program: ramen noodles and single serve chicken pouches.
All food donations may be dropped off at the SCC Administrative Offices, 1211 West Hudson Road, Rogers, Monday-Thursday from 8:30 am-4:30 pm and Friday 8:30 am-12:30 pm.
Host a Food Drive
You can help us continue to ensure hungry children in NWA do not suffer food insecurity on weekends by hosting a SFK food drive at your business, organization or school.
More About the Program
Prior to joining Samaritan Community Center (SCC), Debbie Rambo heard a story from a teacher-friend about a kindergarten student who went to school one Monday morning, smelled the food cooking in the cafeteria and collapsed. As the teacher and school nurse talked to him, they learned that the last time he had eaten was the previous Friday, when he ate his school lunch.
Dumbfounded that this could actually be going on in communities across our country, Debbie resolved that someday, somehow she was going to do something about that problem if it did indeed exist in our community. So when she joined the staff of SCC as its executive director in 2002 she began researching ways to help hungry Northwest Arkansas families. She found a snackpacks program in a nearby community that gave food to school children on Fridays to take home to insure they had something to eat on weekends and began the process of modeling Samaritan’s SnackPacks for Kids (SFK) program.
Debbie called a couple of friends who were school counselors, received permission to provide snackpacks to their schools, and in January 2005 SFK began weekly deliveries to three local elementary schools: Bonnie Grimes and Grace Hill in Rogers and Mary Mae Jones in Bentonville.
SFK grew at a steady pace between 2005-2014, and although the growing program often presented logistical and financial challenges to SCC, we were always ready and able to help any elementary school that wanted to join the program.
The sudden dramatic expansion of our SFK program happened when the Arkansas Rice Depot pulled its distribution of weekend food packets out of Northwest Arkansas at the end of 2014, leaving many Northwest Arkansas students without any weekend food assistance. SCC felt we could not ignore the hunger needs of the many students in upper grades who were suddenly left wondering if they would have enough food to eat during the weekend and other school holidays. So we picked up as many schools as possible to ensure all school children had a weekend resource for food.
Over the last two years, in order to accommodate the needs of both younger and older youth, snackpack contents have been expanded to include two single-serve cereal bowls (cold cereal only), macaroni and cheese single bowls or pouches, Slim Jim-type meat sticks, 1% shelf stable milk, fruit strip, and animal crackers.
Prior to January 2015 SCC distributed approximately 6200 snackpacks per week to 95 area schools and sites. With the new additions and some tweaking of the program, SnackPacks was able to add many schools in 2016, yet keep the average weekly distribution to between 6000 children in 160 sites.
“Serving with SnackPacks is a fun and effective way to fight the food insecurity so many kids in our community face on a weekly basis.”
SnackPacks for Kids Coordinator
SnackPacks for Kids FAQ
What is a SnackPack?
A Samaritan Community Center snackpack is a small white plastic shopping bag filled with 8 healthy snacks. Snackpacks usually contain (items may vary, depending on donations) two single-serve cereal bowls (cold cereal only), macaroni and cheese single bowls or pouches, Slim Jim-type meat sticks, 1% shelf stable milk, fruit strip, and animal crackers. Because of the number of school children with peanut allergies, SnackPacks for Kids is a peanut free program.
Who is eligible to participate?
SnackPacks for Kids is open to schools, from Head Starts to High Schools, in Benton, Washington, Madison and Carroll counties in Arkansas. We were fortunate in 2016 to raise enough funds to accommodate all schools requesting SnackPacks, and erasing our waiting list.
How are SnackPacks distributed?
Between 3500-5500 children in 170 NWA schools and head start centers receive a snackpack every Friday during the calendar school year. During the summer, approximately 2000-3000 snackpacks are distributed through summer school lunch programs, church lunch programs, our cafes and other public venues.
Who determines which children receive a snackpack?
SCC relies on the school counselors to determine which children are the most at-risk for hunger or food insecurity on the weekends. When schools enroll in the Snackpacks for Kids program, they are allotted a specific number of snackpacks based on 20% of their student free/reduced lunch population. We do this to ensure that as many schools as possible receive some snackpacks for kids in need.
Are the SnackPack items donated?
While SCC is thankful for the many food drives that support SnackPacks for Kids, due to the many dietary constraints the center continues to purchase the majority of our snack items at a cost of over $60,000 each month. Our organization does not receive any state or federal funding for this. SnackPacks for Kids is funded by grants, food drives and through generous donations from individuals, businesses, corporations and area churches.