Though Fort Smith and Van Buren schools will be closed, starting Monday (March 16), plans are in place to make certain children can still have nutritious meals and some childcare is available.
Fort Smith Public Schools will have grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches at 11 elementary schools. Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9 a.m. Lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Child Nutrition Staff will serve these meals at stations near the building entrance. Meals are free and available to all children ages 1 to 18. Children must be present to receive a meal. Parents can purchase a meal for $2.50 for breakfast and $4 for lunch.
Meals will be available at:
• Ballman Elementary, 2601 South Q Street
• Barling Elementary, 1400 D Street in Barling
• Beard Elementary, 1600 Cavanaugh Road
• Carnall Elementary, 2524 South Tulsa Street
• Fairview Elementary, 2400 South Dallas Street
• Howard Elementary, 1301 North 8th Street
• Morrison Elementary, 3415 Newlon Road
• Pike Elementary, 4111 Park Avenue
• Spradling Elementary, 4949 Spradling Avenue
• Sunnymede Elementary, 4201 North O Street
• Tilles Elementary, 815 North 16th Street
“The state has made a big decision (regarding schools closing to students starting Tuesday). We want to make sure we comply while also taking care of the needs of children. We will provide meals for children while making sure we do not encourage children congregating,” Zena Featherston Marshall, FSPS executive director of communication and community partnerships.
Van Buren Public Schools also will serve grab-and-go breakfast and lunch for all students Monday through Thursday of this week (March 16-19). Breakfast will be served from 8:30- 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m. at three designated sites:
• Central Elementary School, 913 North 24th Street
• Northridge Middle School, 120 Northridge Drive
• Tate Elementary School, 406 Catcher Road
In addition to meals, VBSD will have staff available at its elementary and middle school campuses will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to provide childcare in an effort to give parents more time to secure childcare, the district’s website said.
“Elementary and middle school students are not required to attend on Monday – the childcare option is simply a courtesy the district is extending to help families,” the website states.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided on-site for students attending Monday. Bus routes for elementary and middle school students will run as usual on Monday only.
Justin Bates, marketing and development coordinator for River Valley Regional Food Bank, said many of their plans are fluid at the moment, but the foodbank does have some plans in place. Backpacks filled with hand-held, single-use, easy-to-eat and easy-to-prepare items are going to Van Buren Police Department school resources officers, who will deliver to children who cannot get to eating sites, he said.
“We’re also partnering with Clean Cookin’ to offer meals to those in need,” Bates said. “Additionally, Tyson Foods graciously offered some additional product to us that we will distribute to our member agencies in an effort to feed families in our area.”