CALS hosts a Mighty kick off for Hunger Action Month

On September 1, staff from CALS and Be Mighty were joined by city leaders and partners to kick off Hunger Action Month. During September, citizens are encouraged to take a stand against hunger by sharing, volunteering, pledging, fundraising, and donating. During the kickoff, CALS Executive Director Nate Coulter; Mayor Frank Scott Jr.; Kathy Webb, City Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance; and Jasmine Zandi, coordinator of Be Mighty Little Rock, announced changes to the meal schedule, the addition of adult meals, and the adjustments to Be Mighty METRO.

It’s important to understand that hunger isn’t just a short-term problem, but an issue that can have long-lasting consequences. In households that struggle with food insecurity, children are at higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as asthma, and adolescents are more likely to suffer from mental health issues. Jasmine Zandi

In photo: Rock Region METRO CEO Justin Avery, CALS Executive Director Nate Coulter, Be Mighty Coordinator Jasmine Zandi, City Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance Kathy Webb, Mayor Frank Scott Jr.

Be Mighty Little Rock is a citywide campaign designed to connect kids and teens 18 and under with free meals that are distributed through 11 CALS branches and additional locations throughout the city. This school year, grab-and-go meals are once again available and parents may pick up meals without children being present. In 2021, Be Mighty distributed more than 1.8 million meals throughout Pulaski County. Amazingly, over 4.5 million meals have been distributed through the program since its inception in 2018.

The Be Mighty METRO program is available to connect caregivers and children to meal sites. Previously this program was known as Rides to Reads and required a special pass. Through this modified program, the process has been streamlined and only requires one card that doubles as a bus pass and library card. Last year, CALS distributed 458 METRO bus passes through the program. To date, 93,173 passenger trips have been taken with the pass.

In addition to the usual meals for kids, adult meals are now being provided at select branches during regular meal distribution times. Outside of mealtimes, individuals can “shop” from the new Little Free Pantries at Children’s, Dee Brown, Fletcher, McMath, Brooks, Nixon, and Terry libraries. While CALS does stock the pantries periodically with the support of grant funds, we also heavily rely on donations to keep them running. The food has been going quickly, which shows people have been getting use out of them, and the program so far has been a huge success. Anyone interested in helping stock these little free pantries can drop off items at participating branches or can purchase from the Amazon wishlist and have it sent directly to them. More information on how to donate and what items are accepted can be found on the Be Mighty social media, (@BeMightyLittleRock on Facebook and Instagram).

Ending hunger starts at home. And CALS is so proud of the impact that we are able to make with your help.

Read the article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette and watch the feature from THV 11.