FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fayetteville Public Schools is helping feed a record number of families during this winter break.

Social workers with FPS say they’re helping feed 450 families over the break, which is the most they’ve ever helped. One of those social workers is Sara Blickenstaff.

On a weekly basis, Blickenstaff said the number of food-insecure families the district pantry serves has doubled from last year. She said they now help around 40 families a week.

Blickenstaff said she has seen many families lose their SNAP benefits recently, and the increase in need also stems from the cost of living getting more expensive. She’s concerned about the students who rely on school meals while school is out for two weeks, and the pantry is closed.

“School meals are very important and last year, every student in the district was able to get free lunch and breakfast. This year, it’s gone back to where you have to apply and qualify for free meals, but I’m sure you’ve all heard that sometimes students only eat at school,” said Blickenstaff.

Again, Blickenstaff said the families receiving meal boxes have already been chosen, so, if you’re in need of extra food, here are some of the pantries she suggests you check out:

  • Life Source International in Fayetteville
  • Genesis Church in Fayetteville
  • Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas has locations in Fayetteville and Bentonville

Blickenstaff recommends also calling 211 and they’ll connect you with a list of resources to help with food or bills.

If your child goes to FPS and is in need of food or hygiene products, she said they should talk with their school counselor and they’ll be connected to the social workers’ staff and food pantry.

Blickenstaff said the FPS pantry could always use more donations from the community to keep it stocked throughout the school year.