CALS meal program serving record-number of children since pandemic began

Local News

The “Be Mighty” free meal program offered by the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) has grown significantly since the beginning of the pandemic.    

In 2019, they served close to 59,000 meals. But in 2020, more than 175,000.

“We’re just trying to help in the ways we can so that things might be just a little bit better for a family,” said Be Mighty Project Coordinator Kay Kay Derossette.

Since 2018, there’s been a steady stream of kids getting free meals after school.

But then the pandemic arrived like a comic book villain.

“We operated 7 days a week, three meals a day from March to June,” Derossette said.

Almost a year later, the fight against Covid continues and CALS gives out about 100 meals every day, mostly to children who rely on food from school.

“There are already all these families that are living on the margins of society, making it work with limited resources and we saw the need increase,” Derossette said.

Sometimes CALS offers food boxes with fresh produce.

“When we have those distributions, we see people lined up like way down the streets,” Derossette said. “Hundreds of families…have to choose between their health and safety and hunger and food security.”

CALS said what they’re doing is just providing children with a basic need, but for an organization in the business of books, this looks more like a job done by super heroes.

Ten library branches across Little Rock offer meals Monday through Friday after school and Saturdays around lunchtime.

Kids gets two meals on Saturday to last them through the weekend.

To find out where they offer meals, visit

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