Fuel Up summer meals starts big

HOPE –The Hope Public School District “Fuel Up: Feeding Bodies, Fueling Minds” summer meals program has served more than 1,600 local school age and younger children free meals in its first two weeks of operation this summer.

Deanna Gilbert, director of nutrition services for the HPSD, said that 860 students were served from June 3-10 as the program kicked off, and some 810 were served in the second week.  Free lunch meals will be available for local youth, 18 years old and under, daily throughout the summer, except on July 4.

The program will operate Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until noon at Hope Fair Park, Hope Northside Park and the Hope High School cafeteria.

A modified school bus will serve as the base of operations for the community park visits, with attendant activities including a parent center. Volunteers from the Hempstead County Master Gardener program helped youngsters plant flower seeds in cups and provided instructions for care and growth this week.

Hempstead County Master Gardener volunteers Kathryn Dickinson, David Cox, Sara Darling and Gwen Webb were Gilbert's guests in the first of several planned activities for the summer meals program. The volunteers showed students how to plant flower seeds which they will grow at home.

Gilbert said plans are for visits by the Hope Fire Department, local Emergency Medical Services, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and a story time by community volunteer readers.

Activities will rotate, as will the Fuel Up Bus, at Fair Park on Monday and Tuesday, then, at Northside Park on Wednesday and Thursday. Gilbert said the schedule reflects the peak days for attendance at each park.

Health screenings will be arranged through the newly-developed school-based health clinic at Hope High School. Books for the story time activity and distribution have been provided by local community service partners and individuals.