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Sen. John Boozman stops in Hope to discuss summer meal program

U.S. Senator John Boozman visited the Yerger Middle School in Hope Wednesday afternoon to talk about Hope’s summer meal program and the challenges Hope faces with providing food to children in the area.

Sen. Boozman spoke with Deanna Gilbert, the Children Nutrition Director for Hope Public Schools, and Sandra Calhoun, a worker for AirMark which helps provide the food for the children, about Hope’s program to feed children during the summer and COVID-19 pandemic.

“The people that feed our children are our unsung heroes during the pandemic,” Boozman said. “All of them had to make decisions that nobody ever made before. We want them to be the ones that makes these decisions about school food verses people in Washington that are not in the streets feeding the children.”

Calhoun says that she feeds, on average, 120-125 children free meals a day during the summer, but her and Gilbert say that there’s a problem with the nutrition standards that make children not want to eat the food provided sometimes.

“There are restrictions that are put in place that make it very difficult to cook food that actually looks like food,” Boozman said. “That’s another reason why we’re here. It’s one thing for me to say it, it’s another for people that actually cook the food to say it. We just need some common sense in this and to make sure we’re providing healthy food for our young people, but you don’t get there if you have so much food waste and people simply won’t eat it.”

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