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story.lead_photo.caption Canned goods are shown at the Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry in Detroit in this March 23, 2020, file photo. (AP / Paul Sancya )

The Pine Bluff School District's Food Pantry will provide additional food assistance to low-income families.

The district has been named a partner in the Arkansas Foodbank's Emergency School Pantry Program, according to a news release.

The 36-week program will provide emergency food boxes to low-income families with children in the Pine Bluff district who are enrolled in a U.S. Department of Agriculture children's feeding program like the free and reduced-price lunch, summer feeding or after-school programs.

"I wish to convey my strong support for the grant being offered by the Arkansas Food Bank for the establishment of a food pantry for our district," said schools Superintendent Barbara Warren.

"As Arkansas ranks second in the nation for very low food security, I recognize the invaluable benefit of this grant to our families. Moreover, in our district, all of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch, thereby, making the food pantry of vital importance to our families as more and more of our families are experiencing food insecurities, especially in the global pandemic that we are now in," Warren said.

In September, the Arkansas Foodbank received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding through the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services to reduce hunger through collaborative efforts.

Administered by the food bank, the Emergency School Pantry Program will be implemented in partnership with six Feeding America food banks and 50 school districts throughout the state.

The Pine Bluff district, partnering with Delta Regional Community Services Outreach Network Inc., will receive portions of the needy-families funding to pay for food, staff support, delivery and the supplies and equipment necessary for food storage and distribution, according to the release.

"Arkansas is focused on making sure families impacted by covid-19 and poverty have the assistance and resources they need," said Phil Harris, an assistant director with the Division of Workforce Services. "We want these resources to be easy to access and available for all who need them, and partners like Arkansas Foodbank make that possible. We will continue working with our partners in government, non-profit, and the private sector to come together and support families in Arkansas."

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was created to help families stay together by empowering family leaders with job skills, resources and assistance. This project meets one of the program's primary purposes: to provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in homes of relatives, according to the release.

"The Pine Bluff School District is committed to our system goal of Outstanding Academic Achievement for ALL students and we know that food insecurity negatively impacts students' academic and behavioral performance, so the district is extremely pleased to receive this grant to assist in alleviating food insecurity for our students," according to the release.

For more information on the Division of Workforce Services or the needy-families program, visit www.DWS.arkansas.gov. For more information on how to receive emergency food boxes, families with children in the Pine Bluff School District can contact Freddie Jolivette at Freddie.jolivette@pinebluffschools.org.

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