It's the last weekend of Summer for students in Shelby County. Monday morning starts a new school year. But for many students, going home at the end of the day is the hardest part. School leaders tell us, the rate of child hunger has spiked. Community organizations and churches are making sure no child is left hungry.
"In Shelby County, there are 8,000 students on free or reduced lunch," Ward Williams, Director, Vineyard Family Services said.
Shelby County churches and organizations make up "Backpack Buddies." Volunteers pack snack foods in the bags of children in need so they'll have something to eat at home over the weekend.
"I think that in this economy, parents, it's not that they don't want to do the best thing for their children, but sometimes they are doing the best that they can," Alaina Key, school guidance counselor said. "This program helps them take care of their children."
Charlotte Brammer's church sponsors Vincent Elementary - a school that reports a whopping 73% of their students need help.
"I think one of the most shocking things is that we have hunger," Charlotte Brammer, a volunteer said. "We have children who are hungry in Shelby County."
"Being able to put that in their bookbags, is beyond measure for me because I can go home each Friday and know that those children are definitely going to have something to eat," Key said.
Guidance counselors pinpoint children in need by whether they participate in free or reduced lunches or by teachers, who notice whether a child has anything to eat. The goal is to keep it all confidential.
"We want the parents and families, their privacy to be protected," Maegan Vick, Helena Elementary Guidance Counselor said. "They appreciate the help, but they don't want the whole community knowing they need the help."
Backpack Buddies is in 13 elementary and middle school campuses leaving 8 schools still needing the program.
"We don't want kids to be embarrassed and we don't want to let kids down and that is what we are trying to do is help as many of those as we can," Williams said.
Here is a link to the Backpack Buddies program website: