Cumberland County school food insecurity program feeds dozens during the holidays

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Cumberland County program feeds dozens during holidays
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Lunchtime can be a favorite for students, but for some, it's a mission to save every scrap they can get.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY (WTVD) -- Food insecurity among children is a growing problem everywhere including Cumberland County. For many low-income families, the meals their kids get at school is all they'll eat on any given day.

Lunchtime can be a favorite for students, but for some, it's a mission to save every scrap they can get.

Holly Van Dyke is one of several social workers within Cumberland County Schools.

She sees first hand what food insecurity looks like among small children.

"You can see a child hoarding food and putting it in their pockets and constantly asking when is lunch," said Van Dyke.

National numbers show one in four children - under the age of 18 - in North Carolina suffer from food insecure on a regular basis.

Van Dyke said at the two schools she works at in Fayetteville, nearly 100 kids are apart of those statistics.

Some community organizations, churches, and even people like 16-year-old Avery Pickett are tackling hunger one meal at a time through the Backpack Buddies program.

"It provides for kids whose parents have little or no money to buy food, and it gives those kids food for the weekend so they don't go hungry," said Pickett.

Monday night, Pickett along with her Pastor, bagged up meals for students attending schools in Eastover.

The bags are distributed every Friday, but with winter break around the corner, they've taken extra measures.

"We packed extra food in the bag this week," said Pickett. "That will give them the opportunity to have that food for next week as well."

The pantry she runs out of her church faithfully feeds 60 kids every week.

It's a project she's proud to be apart of because she said no child deserves to go to bed hungry.

"It makes me feel so good to know I'm helping and doing such a good thing in my community," said Pickett.