The Crawford County Adult Education Center is partnering with area churches to provide an evening meal twice a week for the students.

“It gives our school more visibility and is a positive experience for the students,” said Debbie Faubus-Kendrick, director at the center.

This is the first time for the adult education center to provide an evening meal for the students.

“We are close to 1,100 students this year and it’s our largest number of students in the evening,” Faubus-Kendrick said. “They come from work, some are homeless, or they don’t have the funds to do drive-through. This is a good opportunity for us to partner with area churches and a chance for them to fellowship, if they want, with our students.”

The number of students coming through the center has grown due to the implementation of the Alternative Sentencing program, which allows those who have misdemeanors to enter a program at the center instead of doing community service.

The center is still serving with the same number of people on staff and budget.

“It’s a good problem to have,” said Faubus-Kendrick. “We’re always looking for ways to improve and in fact, in one of the exit interviews, someone put the only thing they would improve upon their experience is if we provided a meal.

The feedback prompted Faubus-Kendrick to see what the center could do.

“This gives the people who come here the chance to meet positive role models and that there are people who care about them,” Faubus-Kendrick said. “This is really exciting for our students. We always have popcorn and coffee available, but it’s not very sustaining. For some, it may be the only meal they’ll have.”

Churches providing the meals on a rotational basis during the Tuesday and Thursday classes are:

Calvary Chapel, Bethlehem Freewill Baptist, Crosspointe Community Church, Butterfield Assembly of God, United Pentecostal Church, Kibler United Methodist, Cavanaugh Freewill Baptist, The Current Outreach, Encounter Church, Heritage United Methodist, Community Bible Van Buren, and Pleasant Valley Church of Christ.

Water for the meals has been donated by Citizens Bank and Arvest Bank and Ken Warden.

“We’re still looking for more to donate water,” the director said. “I think this will become a good partnership, and we’re open for more churches to be involved.”