HARRISONBURG, Va.-- A faith community hopes to end childhood hunger in our schools. On Sunday, it hosted a mac and cheese off, an event aimed to raise money to prevent kids from going hungry.
Nearly 17 million children under the age of 18 live in homes where they can't get nutritious food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A faith community called Rise hopes to end this trend, but it says it's an epidemic it cannot fight alone.
Neighbor Megan Shields is at the Mac and Cheese off; an event where neighbors can try original mac and cheese recipes, while taking a bite out of hunger.
"I love mac and cheese so that was a good thing," said Megan Shields.
Rise Pastor Amanda Garber said the event benefits a program to end childhood hunger called "Love Packs", a weekly program that gives backpacks filled with food to 35 Spotswood Elementary School students.
Garber said it cannot afford to help more kids. However, she knows there is more of them in need at that school and at other schools in the area.
"I think the nature of our community is that you always see the need, the pain, the hunger right in front of you and can be very hidden but it is very very real,” said Garber.
Garber said it costs the faith community $200 to fill a child's backpack for the year. The proceeds of the event will hopefully pay for five children.
"We work with local food pantries and try to get a lot of donations to keep that cost down but just the nature of our economy, rising food prices, gas prices, it's getting more expensive every year,” said Garber.
She said she hopes through more funds and awareness, the community gets involved.
"Helping people know this is a significant issue in our community and if everybody got involved in some even small way, we can make an enormous difference,” said Garber.
Shields came to the event with the intent of making a difference.
“You can't just stand by and accept that there is a truth about hurting and not do anything about it,” says Shields.
The organizers expected up to 200 people at the event. Garber said she hopes other groups expand the program to other schools in need.
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