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Despite the winter closure, the Hot Springs School District finds a way to feed students



Hot Springs, Arkansas – Due to concerns expressed by administrators about slippery roadways brought on by the winter weather, several sizable school districts in Arkansas remained closed on Friday.

A snow day has stretched into a snow week, which is problematic for families because free meals aren’t available to children while they’re not in school.

On Friday, the Hot Springs School District changed course to assist by deploying food trucks throughout the community.

“We’re providing breakfast and lunch for students 18 and under at no cost,” Chartwells Dining Services Director Brittany Hardage said.

Food trucks were the solution used by the district and its food service partner, Chartwells, after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday extended into a week-long break.

According to Hardage, it meets a big demand.

“Days with no school are hard on families,” Hardage said. “I know that we are often the only place where some kids get a hot meal.”

They dispersed throughout the community in an attempt to contact as many families as they could.

“We chose the stops that we use during the summertime, so we’re already established,” Hardage said. “Same times that we’re normally here, so you know some familiar faces.”

They’ve never used it for a weather-related purpose before.

Director of Communications for the Hot Springs School District Jennifer Hoyt stated that since breakfast and lunch are provided free of charge to the whole district every day, it seemed logical to carry on providing the meals—this time, on wheels.

“We’re just glad we have the option,” Hoyt said. “We’ve got two food trucks. We’ve got a great partner, so whenever we can make it happen, we will, but we’re really glad that we were able to do it this week.”

It’s also appreciated by the families. This is a huge benefit for her kids, according to Ambrosia Crable.

“They get the free lunch at school, which is wonderful,” Crable said. Then, when you’re off, especially with the weather now… it makes it difficult at times.”

Crable went out and got a hot supper on Friday.

“It was wonderful that they reached out to the families to do that,” Crable said.

All 200 lunches that the district and Chartwells made were distributed.

“We just wanted them to be safe this week,” Hoyt said. “We look forward to seeing them back on Monday.”


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