GRAY, Tenn. - More people are hungry in our region than ever before, it's a fact that's troubling food banks across our region. We learned in Northeast Tennessee alone more than 75,000 people don't get enough food every day.
September is Hunger Action Month, and one group is taking that to heart.
It might not seem like much; assembling grocery bags with a few pounds worth of food. "We're packing lunches for kids for weekends," said Pete Voigt, an AARP volunteer.
With every one of the bags filled, another child in our region doesn't have to worry if they'll get to eat when the school lunch line isn't open.
It's part of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee's back pack program, and it's needed now more than ever.
We discovered two out of every five kids are food insufficient. "Last year, we were at 4,000 students, and this year we're seeing a huge increase," said Ashley Penley, the children's program coordinator.
We learned that's an increase of 1,000 more kids every year. So this school session, about 5,000 students will depend on these bags for essential nutrition.
A group of AARP volunteers told News 5 they want a better life for younger generations, so it's hard seeing it get worse. "When our kids came home from school, there were cookies and milk and mommy there to talk about their schoolwork. The generations don't have it anymore. They're working. They don't get the really good food," said Voigt.
But it's motivation to help behind the scenes, knowing the bags they helped make will soon be in the back pack of a hungry child. "If somebody else is moved to do the same thing, and we enlarge it, that way then it's going to grow," said volunteer Jo Voigt.
We learned you can sponsor a back pack for a child $93 a year. For more information, check out www.netfoodbank.org.