WISE, Va. - The country is facing a growing hunger problem, and it's affecting kids at local schools. But one school is fighting the problem with a program called The Lunchbox Project.
Every day, 141 Wise Primary School students on The Lunchbox Project line up for an extra snack, asking for things like apple juice boxes, nutritional bars, or ice cream.
28 percent of the school's student body is made up of children on the free or reduced lunch program. But principal Selena Kiser wanted to take it further. "They are provided with breakfast and lunch, but they also need, you know, it seems like they need more," she says.
The program started several years ago, allowing need-based students to walk through the lunch line, get a free lunch and an extra side of their choice.
Then, a little after lunchtime, the 141 students line up at the school store for a free snack.
Cousins Davin Perry and Jasmine Hollyfield are two of eight people living in a three bedroom home. Space is limited, and sometimes, so are healthy food options. "Chicken nuggets, we have chicken nuggets some nights, pizza rolls, we don't know what we're having for supper, cheese sticks," they say.
With The Lunchbox Project, they can sit at school and not feel hungry.
The program is run through donations that go straight to the school's cafeteria fund. News 5 found Maranda Daniels, a parent who wanted to help. And she did - by setting up a GoFundMe account. "For some of these kids, the limited calories they get on their free lunch tray may be the only calories they get that day," she says.
Last weekend, the school held a 5K race in Wise to raise money for the program. Kiser tells us they raised $10,000, and another parent wants to distribute the money evenly amongst other area schools in hopes the program will expand.
For Kiser, it's just important for every child to have access to food. "We don't want anything from school to be a burden to families, and especially providing them with a snack every day. That can get expensive," she says.
Daniels heard stories of some children who sit at home hungry. While her children aren't on the program, it's important for her to be involved. "My children are very blessed. And you have to give back. It's as simple as that," she says.
Daniels wants to make sure kids like Davin and Jasmine have a snack and a smile.
If you're interested in donating, visit the GoFundMe account here.