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Amherst Organization Feeding Hungry Students - abc27 WHTM

Amherst Organization Feeding Hungry Students

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Amherst, VA - If you don't think school children in our area go hungry, just spend a morning with Amherst Cares.

When Beth Gamble isn't volunteering, she sits on the Amherst County School board.

She says 50 % of the entire student population in Amherst County qualifies for free or reduced lunch.

At some schools, that number's even higher.

"One of our schools it's 74 % free and reduced lunch. At another school it's almost 70 %," Gamble explained.

For the first time this school year, volunteers pack bags with food and snacks to give to elementary and middle school students.

"We've gone from 68 the first year we did it in 2010 to the 311 we're doing this morning," Gamble said in between bags.

The food will be delivered to students to take home every Friday. Recipients are identified by school staff members who keep their names confidential.

Beth Gamble says in the three years the program's been around, there's proof it works.

"Their attention span's better. Absentees have decreased," she said.

Most of the volunteers, like Betty Hopkins, are retired teachers and know the need first-hand.

"If they come in hungry in the morning, it makes it hard for them to function during the day," Hopkins said, who retired from an area elementary school.

Prices are expected to jump another ten cents this school year, so volunteers know the need will be even greater.

Elodie Thompson loads up her SUV and heads over to Central Elementary. The school librarian is retired, but says she never stopped caring.

"It's very worthwhile and I'm glad to see that all over the county, kids who need help are getting it," Thompson said.

Since all the students served by the Amherst Cares program are kept confidential, the organization doesn't qualify for federal funding. It's run entirely on donations.

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