WYTHE COUNTY, Va. – For children across Wythe and Bland counties, food insecurity is a serious concern.
“It's pretty serious. When you have elementary kids come to school on Monday, and they are looking at the kids that are coming in with lunch boxes full of food, and they're stealing the food because they are starving,” says Teresa Lewis, volunteer at Hope Packs program.
“We have about one in four that live below the poverty line so many of our students depend on this kind of program for those essential food items just to survive,” said Jeff Perry, division superintendent of Wythe County Public Schools.
For the fifth year, Hope Incorporated, a nonprofit organization is providing food for school age children through the Hope Packs program.
"We make sure that our children in Wythe and Bland counties have food available to them on the weekends, three meals and they're mostly for lunches,” said Mike Pue, organizer of Hope Packs program.
More than 50 volunteers prepared weekend meals for 1,000 children.
Organizers say this food program is fast growing.
What started out as a program helping two schools, is now delivering these meal bags to children in 16 schools.
“It's just heartbreaking because you go home and you don't have to worry about it and then you have a child that comes in and we asked them what they had on the weekend and it might be a can of beans,” said Linda Phillips, volunteer at Hopes Pack program.
The volunteers say while the issue of hunger won't be solved overnight, they are hopeful that their effort will make a difference.