The numbers are hard to imagine, but at least 2,000 children in our region need help to stay fed during the summer.
With school lunches out of the picture, local organizations are stepping in to meet this growing need.
As a box of food gets loaded into Lillian Neice's truck, this grandmother, who is raising her 15-year-old granddaughter on a fixed income, is breathing a sigh of relief. "I'm praying and hoping, because she is so much a growing girl, that what we get here helps us get through a month," Neice told News 5.
That's just the idea behind Good Samaritan Ministries' summer food program, but he organization still needs $48,000 to serve the 600 families they know need the extra help. "When they can't rely on the school during the summertime, it gets really hard to provide," explained Amber Greene with Good Samaritan Ministries.
The boxes given out include several boxes of macaroni and cheese, cereal, canned soup, ramen noodles, and many more items. The box is expected to last a family with children about one month.
We learned this kind of food is needed for kids all across our region.
News 5 found out about 450 children will be fed every day in our area by Feeding America Southwest Virginia's summer food program, and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee served about 1,600 children last summer on their mobile food buses and stationary feeding sites.
"The numbers will most definitely double this year, if not even triple, because of the amount of children we're seeing coming to these sites," said Rhonda Chafin, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.
For Ashley Hayes, a mother of three, Second Harvest's food busses are what helps her children get the nutrition they need when times are tough and every little bit counts. "Our house just burnt down, I mean it really helps," Hayes said choking back tears.
"It tastes good!" her son Christopher Hayes said as he was eating his lunch on the bus.
If you'd like to help these organizations meet this growing need, or you want more information about their programs, check out their websites.